College Basketball

Three keys to watch for in Duke-Gonzaga

Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski  looks for the ball against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyArena on March 22, 2015 in Seattle, Wash.
Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski looks for the ball against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyArena on March 22, 2015 in Seattle, Wash. Getty Images

Duke faces Gonzaga Sunday with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

1) How do the Blue Devils handle Gonzaga’s front court depth?

The Bulldogs are one of the deepest teams in the post that Duke has seen this year: 7-foot-1 Pzremek Karnowski starts at the center position, and 6-foot-10 Kyle Wiltjer (a Kentucky transfer who lost to Duke two years ago in the Champions Classic) is a stretch power forward that can hit 3s. And off the bench there is 6-foot-10 freshman Domantas Sabonis.

All three are different, Krzyzewski said. And Wiltjer reminded Quinn Cook of a player he knows well.

"He reminds me of Ryan Kelly," Cook said.

Krzyzewski agreed.

"Wiltjer just stretches the defense but can go inside and is 6-10," he said. "Karnowski is huge but he's got great ball skills, so it's hard to double him because they have four shooters around him, so he has room to operate. When Sabonis comes in, he has the best feet and the best runner and different—they’re all three different."

2) How does Gonzaga deal with Justise Winslow?

Winslow has been the difference maker for Duke in the postseason—he keyed the run that put Robert Morris away in the second half, and he was the ultimate stat-stuffer against San Diego State (13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks). And then he carried Duke against Utah, with 21 points.

Wiltjer doesn’t appear to be a great matchup on Winslow— Wiltjer doesn’t have the athleticism to chase Winslow all over the floor. But sometimes you have to dance with the one that brought you.

"That will be a big key to the game tomorrow is who is gaining the advantage, you know, but, at the same time, you know, you don't want to go too far from what got you here," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "And, you know, our power and our physicality on the inside is a huge part of who we are, even though I think Kevin (Pangos) and Wilch get a lot of credit for how well they shoot it, but in the end what makes us a national caliber squad is just how big we are and how physical we are. And we got to do our best to accentuate that."

3) Do the 3-pointers fall?

Statistician Ken Pomeroy ran a statistical analysis that indicated teams do shoot worse than normal when facing the cavernous black backdrop at NRG Stadium (and all four teams illustrated that Friday night).

"As shooters you keep putting shots up," said Gonzaga point guard Kevin Pangos, a 43.8 percent shooter from 3-point range (he went 1-for-7 Friday). "If it's a good team shot, you don't think twice, just let it go. That's what we're going to do."

Duke may be more cold-shooting proof, with Okafor always an option down low. Laura Keeley

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