Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 8:45 a.m.
The defending NCAA champion Duke Blue Devils will strut into the basketball arena in Anaheim later today brimming with confidence, fully expecting to leave as the victor over the Pac-10's Arizona Wildcats in a Sweet 16 contest.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski hopes to gnaw on Arizona Wildcats tonight
Yes, the Blue Devils are as well-coached and deep as ever, and the return of their star freshman Kyrie Irving from a season-long toe injury adds another weapon to an already potent equation.
And the Devils have some awfully big fellas underneath who may frustrate Arizona sophomore star Derrick Williams, whose stock has risen so dramatically during the season that some NBA-centric websites list him as a probable lottery pick if, as expected, he goes pro.
But one thing about the Wildcats: It seems that an expected hero has emerged in every tough game they've won this year (the three-overtime classic up at Cal, the home victories over UCLA and USC, and of course the NCAA thrillers over Memphis and Texas).
We immediately are thinking of MoMo Jones, Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, Kyle Fogg and Jordin Mayes.
The Cats will enjoy a kind of home-court advantage due to the proximity to So Cal, but that probably won't matter much to Atlantic Coast Conference-tested Duke, who face slings and arrows at every road venue.
Tonight, more than one of the Cats will have to play the games of his life for Arizona to prevail in another close one and move one improbable step closer to the Final Four.