Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked Monday to name the team the Blue Devils have played that reminds him of NCAA regional semifinal opponent Villanova.
He thought for a moment, but couldn’t come up with anybody. That's because Villanova resembles Duke more than any other team in the ACC.
"They are very similar in that they can score from all their positions," Krzyzewski said. "They like to drive. They give their players the ability to make plays."
The numbers for forwards Dante Cunningham (16.3 ppg, 7.3 ppg) of Villanova and Kyle Singler (16.5 ppg, 7.7 ppg) of Duke are almost eerily similar. So are the teams' scoring averages (77.0 ppg for Villanova, 78.1 ppg for Duke) and defensive numbers (67.1 ppg for Villanova, 65.6 ppg for Duke).
The good thing for Duke in this matchup is that Villanova doesn't appear to have a big post player capable of dominating the game against the Blue Devils' smallish front line. The bad news for Duke is that Villanova doesn't appear to have a big post player whom the Blue Devils can draw away from the basket with a small lineup.
"They play the three or four guards just like we do," said Duke guard Nolan Smith. "It will be a good matchup."
There are subtle differences between the two teams. Villanova likes to run its offense through guard Scottie Reynolds while Duke turns to a small forward Gerald Henderson to penetrate and create.
Villanova also has two guys averaging about 10 points per game (guards Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes) coming off the bench. Duke's bench is known more for its defense.
"Fisher and Stokes have really been scoring the ball well," Krzyzewski said. "They're deep and they're really good. They're just a hard team to defend."
With so many similarities between the teams, coaching might make the difference Thursday night in Boston. That's where Duke fans will have to hope Krzyzewski's experience pulls their team through against Villanova's Jay Wright, who's one of the hottest young names in the business but doesn’t yet possess Krzyzewski's pedigree.