Most people think Arizona has a chance in this game, when you consider the quality of Derrick Williams and the amount of games he has altered with his mere presence. But when you dissect the Duke roster, things get a little murky.
Duke is led by senior Nolan Smith, who is loaded with experience and passion. He also scores 21 points a game. Kyle Singler is another senior for the Blue Devils, who averages 16.9 points a game and in terms of physical size, matches up comparably to Derrick Williams of the Wildcats.
The wild card in this game is Kyrie Irving, Duke's immensely talented freshman. Before the NCAA Tournament, Irving hadn't played since early December in a victory over the Butler Bulldogs. Irving had a severe turf toe, and his playing in this tournament is a surprise to most people.
Arizona has an opportunity to win this game for three reasons, and we'll break those all down right now.
1. This game is being played in Anaheim. Derrick Williams is from La Mirada, California, which is located ten miles away from the Honda Center, where the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 are being held. Williams will be even more amped up for this game, knowing that his hometown will be supporting him.
2. Duke's four losses all came on the road in 2010-2011. If there's one chink in the armor of this Duke team, it's that they are only "really good" on the road, instead of being "unbeatable." The Blue Devils were 6-4 in true road games this season, while winning all 17 of their home games. Does this mean anything? You tell me.
3. Arizona plays well with the home court advantage. The Wildcats will likely be well-represented in the stands, with the commute from Tucson much shorter than the one from Durham. Arizona won all 17 of its home games in 2010-2011, just like Duke. When you combine Duke's road mortality with the regional advantage that the Wildcats will have, this could be a de facto home game.
Arizona certainly is going to fight an uphill battle against these seasoned, composed Blue Devils. But they still have a real chance to pull out the victory on Thursday night.