Sunday, April 01, 2001

Duke, Arizona prove pollsters right

Preseason No. 1, No. 2 to battle for title

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MINNEAPOLIS — One game is all that remains, and the college basketball season is right back where it started.Arizona, ranked No.1 in the preseason, will meet Duke, the preseason No.2, for the national championship Monday night.

        Tipoff at the Metrodome is set for 9:18 p.m.

        Both teams took drastically different routes to get to the title game.

        The Wildcats (28-7) overwhelmed Michigan State 80-61 in Saturday night's first semifinal.

        The Blue Devils (34-4) had to rally from a 22-point first-half deficit to defeat Maryland 95-84 in the second game.

        Arizona, whose five starters each average in double figures, is making its second appearance in the NCAA final. It beat Kentucky for the 1997 national championship.

        “You can call us soft if you want, but we're playing for the national championship,” center Loren Woods said. “We'll be the softest team playing for the championship.”

        Duke, led by Player of the Year Shane Battier and sophomore point guard Jason Williams, is in the final for the ninth time; it is 2-6 in previous title games, winning its championships in 1991 and '92. The Blue Devils were ranked No.1 in the final regular-season poll.

        “I think they're the most athletic team in the country, and they have the most talent top to bottom,” Battier said of Arizona. “It's great that the two best teams will meet for the national championship.”

        The teams have split their previous six meetings but have not met since November 1997 (Duke won 95-87).

NCAA Tournament coverage at

Sports Stories
- Duke, Arizona prove pollsters right
DAUGHERTY: Duke wins with guts, willpower
Duke 95, Maryland 84
DAUGHERTY: Arizona's talent rises to top
Arizona 80, Michigan State 61
Irish, Purdue meet again
Men's NCAA pairings
Women's NCAA pairings
Auto Racing Insider
Baseball losing its pranksters
Best and worst of the week in sports
Cincinnati high school highlights
Cincinnati high school baseball
Cincinnati high school softball
Other Cincinnati high school results
High School Insider
N.Ky. high school results
It's all in details for OSU's Tressel
Grand Rapids 5, Cyclones 2
Mighty Ducks 3, Louisville 2
Richmond 115, Stuff 98

Bowden makes deals - and enemies
Opening Day schedule of festivities
Special Section: Insider's look at Cinergy Field
SULLIVAN: Cinergy Field reborn too late
Griffey decision will wait
Is strong start important?
New season, same old Brennaman
Young glad he chatted with Gooden
Game report: Phillies 8, Reds 0
Mullin adds green to Reds
Ten Questions with: Doug Gallant
Prosser leaning toward XU
Xavier's Levandusky wins shootout
QB Guidugli signs with UC