North Carolina and Duke, the top two seeded teams in the east, enter the NCAA tournament Sunday afternoon professing to be worried.
North Carolina, seeded No. 1, takes on Ivy League champion Pennsylvania at 1 p.m. in Reynolds Coliseum. Duke, No. 2, meets St. John's at 4 p.m. The second game will be televised on WRC-TV-4 and WBAL-TV-11.
While North Carolina Coach Dean Smith frets about complacency on the part of his ACC tournament champions, Duke Coach Bill Foster has injuries, inconsistency and an old nemesis to worry over.
Foster may suit up only 10 players, with starting point guard Bob Bender still recovering from an appendectomy and starting forward Kenny Dennard hobbling on a severely sprained ankle. Bender is definitely out, Dennard very doubtful.
Even with Dennard and Bender playing, the 22-7 Duke team has puzzled Foster.
"We're not playing as well as I had hoped at this point," said Foster, whose team is 5-4 the last nine games. "Our scoring and our shooting percentage have been up and down, our foul shooting is off 11 or 12 percent from last year. We are in a completely different situation from a year ago, when we just sort of came along and things jelled at the end of the season.
"We're a different team from last year. We're different from a week ago."
Duke took first place in the nation's hearts and second place in the NCAA tournament last year, blending handholding and slam dunks into a memorable Cinderella show.
The Blue Devils, now ranked sixth nationally, were No. 1 and undefeated until the Holiday Festival, when Ohio State dealt them their first loss. A night later, none other than St. John's landed the second punch in a 69-66 win.
St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca said today he will show his players only five minutes of that game's film.
"Our copy of the film was so bad we had to borrow Duke's." said Carnesecca.
Foster quickly added, "It's their highlight film."
St. John's beat Duke because of what Foster described as " a great second half. In one spell they made eight of nine shots and we missed eight of nine. It was a crazy situation."
St. John's, 19-10, also got a winning performance that night from 6-foot-8, 235-pound center Wayne McKoy. His success against Duke's Mike Gminski is the key to his team's winning or losing.
McKoy's second-half effort against Temple's hefty Walt Montford triggered St. John's Friday night 75-70 upset here in the first round.
"At this moment," said Carnesecca, "my wife is home saying a prayer that McKoy has the same kind of night against Duke."
Foster will replace Dennard with quick freshman Vince Taylor and start John Harrell at point guard. Most of the burden will be placed on Taylor, who also may have to spell Harrell.
Carnesecca is downplaying the effect of the North Carolina crowd.
"You just play. The crowd doesn't put the ball in the basket," he said. "We're happy we're down here. We're comfortable. We like our position. at my age (54), I like my position of being alive."
North Carolina, ranked third in the country with a 23-5 record, has not played since sweeping through the ACC tournament last week.
The Tar Heels were spellbinding in their two games, trailing for only a few seconds of the 80 minutes.
"With all the nice things people are saying about us, I hope we're not complacent," said Smith, named coach of the year last week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
A source close to the team speculated that Smith would rather have played Iona, the team that lost to Penn, 73-69, Friday night, because Smith does not relish playing against teams coached by close personal friends.
Penn Coach Bob Weinhauer, whose team is 22-5, visited Smith during the season, watched his practices and films and generally went to school under Smith for three days.
"He must have known something we didn't," said Smith.
Nevertheless, Carolina is a heavy favorite to advance to the regional semifinals here Friday against Syracuse.
The winner of the Duke-St. John's game plays Rutgers that night.