Matt Danowski scored twice and handed out two assists, Zack Greer posted four goals and one assist and top-seeded Duke rolled in the ACC semifinals, topping fourth-seeded North Carolina 17-6 Friday afternoon in Charlottesville, Va.
Duke (14-1) advances to the ACC tournament final Sunday, where it will play No. 3 Virginia, the host team. The Blue Devils knocked off Virginia 19-9 two weeks ago, ending the game on a 10-0 run to turn a tightly-contested game in front of a record crowd of 8,000 fans into a rout.
The Chronicle’s beat reporter Matthew Iles will be on hand Sunday in Virginia to write about the action, and will live-blog the game for this website. Check back then for live updates as Duke aims for back-to-back tournament titles.
It seems that recently, whenever Duke travels to road games even at neutral venues, the crowd has two favorite teams: the local team, or whoever is playing Duke. Washington D.C. fans rallied behind West Virginia as the Mountaineers upset the Duke men in the NCAA Tournament’s second round, and the crowd at Maryland was decidedly anti-Duke for the women’s team’s first two NCAA Tournament games, both wins.
According to a new Harris Interactive poll, though, Duke is the most popular college basketball team in the country. After being replaced by North Carolina in 2007, Duke regained the top spot it held from 2003-2006. Rounding out the top five: North Carolina, Indiana, UCLA and, um, Iowa. Not sure how the Hawkeyes slipped in there with the traditional powers, but so it goes.
The women’s team jumped three places from 2007, finishing fourth this year behind Tennessee, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland and Stanford. Again with Iowa. Skewed polling! Conspiracy!
–by Ben Cohen
Highly-prized Greg Echenique, a 6-foot-9 center from Danny Hurley‘s St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J., spurned Duke and other traditional powerhouses for in-state Rutgers. He announced his decision to verbally commit to Fred Hill‘s program Monday after visiting Rutgers’ campus Thursday. Echenique was in Cameron Indoor Stadium for Duke’s March 8 loss to North Carolina.
Over the years, strangely enough, several coveted New Jersey recruits winded up at Duke instead of Rutgers. Jason Williams famously chose to become a Blue Devil after many had speculated he would remain in the Garden State. Dahntay Jones actually transferred to Duke to join Williams, his pal, after spending two seasons as a Scarlet Knight. Current forward Lance Thomas, another product of St. Benedict’s, prolonged his recruiting search until the final days, ultimately opting to travel down to Durham for his college years.
This does, however, continue a more troubling trend for Duke fans. In the last three recruiting cycles, Mike Krzyzewski swung and missed on perhaps the premier frontcourt players: first Brandan Wright (UNC for one season), then Greg Monroe (attending Georgetown next year) and now Echenique, a 5-star recruit.
Krzyzewski has already shored up one commitment for the class of 2009 in 6-foot-10 North Carolina native Mason Plumlee. Two recruits, Elliot Williams and Olek Czyz, will join the team next season.