I don’t think a Lafayette/Duke matchup is remotely close to the Lehigh/Duke matchup a few years ago. A few of us back then even predicted a Lehigh win or very close loss. That was not a vintage Duke team. This Duke team is probably the 2nd best team in the nation. Definitely top 5 in the nation, and have a ton of big wins on the road (won at #2 Wisconsin, won at #6 Louisville, won at #2 Virginia, won at UNC). Only losses were on the road to ND (#8 at time, lost by 4) and back to back losses, one at home to Miami and NC State (both bad losses). They had Rivers, Plumlees, and Curry, but CJ was the best player on the court. No Lafayette player could even get minutes for Duke in their rotation. Curry never panned out and Rivers has struggled in the NBA. I remember talking to Dell Curry at the ticket pickup will call window and telling him the game would be close. He looked at me like I was insane. Two hours later, not so much. The Plumlees were not dominant post players at Duke. Mason has been much better at the NBA level than at Duke (he is a beast now), and Miles was not big enough to dominate Gabe. Mason could have dominated at Duke, he is just huge, but he never saw the ball. This Duke team, on the other hand, has the best player in college basketball, and he is a center. Okafor will eat Trist alive. They also have no answer for Duke’s other 2 freshmen (Tyus Jones and Justice Winston) who are also great players. Duke is super quick and athletic on the perimeter this season, so I don’t see them having trouble guarding the 3 pt line. Duke also has a ton of shooters, and can get hot from 3 in their own right (Quinn Cook 40%, Winslow 39%, Jones 38%, Matt Jones 38%, Sulaimon 40%). Plus, you are not going to get a Duke team that is overlooking this game, like they obviously were when Lehigh beat them. Coach K will make this a huge game for Duke.
Villanova on the other hand is a whole different animal. That game is winnable for Lafayette, and I would expect them to play them close. Nova is not big and not super athletic. Remember this Lafayette team (as juniors) had Nova on the ropes last season at the Pavilion, up in the last 3 minutes, before losing close. That was Lindner’s coming out party. And, Lehigh gave Nova a good run this season in the opener, close for large chunk of game. Nova has that soft press that gave Lehigh fits as they are pretty long on the wings and in that press with Hilliard and others. The only difference from then to now is the play of Daniel Ochefu. He was a stiff last season, but now has turned into a real force and he is a legit 6’10” and thick. Lafayette will have no answer for him, but he can get lost in games. Nova lives and dies by the jump shot, and if they go cold, Leopards could win. Plus, I give Lafayette a slight intangible edge in that their seniors will be playing for O’Hanlon to knock off his alma mater. At the end of his coaching career that would be super sweet for the Lafayette players and coaches.
- This reply was modified 5 years, 7 months ago by lehigh90.