It's difficult to imagine two sets of opponents more dissimilar, at least in image, than those assembled here for Friday night's NCAA East regional semifinals.
The first semifinal in Byrne Arena, at 7, will match the disciplined, power-oriented game of the Naval Academy with the free-form, unrestricted play of Cleveland State.
And the second will throw together top-ranked Duke, a team that has played up to expectations all year, with De Paul, a team whose entire season has been turned around by winning two NCAA tournament games.
About the only similarity between Navy and Cleveland State is that very few people expected either team to gain the round of 16. Cleveland State Coach Kevin Mackey, as usual, overstated the obvious difference between his Vikings (29-3) and the Midshipmen (29-4) today at a news conference.
"It's U.S. Navy, the Department of Defense, against the Run and Stun Gang, the Department of Street Fighters Inc.," Mackey said.
Mackey has made his share of wild comments in this tournament, but most in the audience had to laugh when Mackey, presumably tongue-in-cheek, told of a dream he had Monday night. "I dreamed that St. Patrick was wearing a Cleveland State T-shirt, and he was talking to John Paul Jones, who was carrying a picture of David Robinson and Vernon Butler."
Navy Coach Paul Evans confined most of his comments to the upcoming game.
The coaches are as different as their teams. Cleveland State, as everyone saw in the Vikings' victories over Indiana and St. Joseph's, runs and presses for 40 minutes, relentlessly.
Navy point guard Doug Wojcik faced pressure last week when the Midshipmen upset Syracuse, but it was nothing like what he will face Friday against the swarming, diamond-and-one press that is led by 6-foot Ken (Mouse) McFadden and 5-7 Shawn Hood.
Evans is more concerned about Cleveland State's offense than its defense. "I think our kids are smart enough that they won't try to put the ball on the floor as much as some other teams that have played them," Evans said. "We should react to their press better than some other teams have . . . If our guards get the ball down court, they may find David [Robinson, 7-foot center] in more single coverage than usual.
"What worries me is when they're on offense, they're the type of team that doesn't really give a damn about what they're supposed to be running or what the coach wants; they're just going to go. And we have more trouble with that than we do with a team running a set offense.
"We've had opponents down by a few points, when all of a sudden their kids start doing things they weren't earlier in the game, like split the seams with a one-on-one move -- things you don't see in the scouting report."
Mackey plans on that being his team's primary advantage. "It's very difficult to prepare for what we do in three or four days," he said. "It's almost impossible to simulate the controlled chaos we have. It's foreign to most coaches.
"Most coaches don't want to coach against it, most players don't want to play against it."
The Vikings may find they don't want to play against Robinson and strong forward Butler. "Butler's a tough kid," Mackey said. "In that uniform, he looks like the kind of kid I'd like defending me."
Clinton Smith, a 6-6 senior forward, said his team's primary goal "is to keep Robinson from scoring 40 points and getting 25 rebounds. We can't let him have career highs. And to do that we've got to have a lot of weakside help. A lot.
"We saw him against Syracuse. He had 35 points, nine rebounds and eight blocked shots, and said he didn't play that well. Looked like a great game to me."
Robinson is wary of 6-6 leapers who come to news conferences bearing compliments. "I know they're not tall in the middle," he said, "but they swipe at everything. We're going to have to be alert. I know they're going to keep coming after me."
A key for Navy, which has won 15 straight, may be how well 6-5 guard Kylor Whitaker plays. Wojcik probably will need help handling the ball. And Robinson will need some outside shooting to create room inside.
Duke (34-2) has an 18-game winning streak, the longest in the nation. De Paul has won only three straight, but Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski is worried that he's facing the hot team.
"They're an awfully confident team right now," Krzyzewski said. "Teams get hot, and when it's a talented team, that makes it dangerous."
Hearing De Paul called "dangerous" this late in March hasn't happened since 1979, the last time the Blue Demons (18-12) won two games in this tournament.
But a bigger concern for Duke is De Paul being big. If the Atlantic Coast Conference champion has a weakness, it's that its front court is relatively small. De Paul, on the other hand, starts 7-0 Lemone Lampley, 6-9, 250-pound Marty Embry, and 6-8, 230-pound Kevin Holmes. Dallas Comegys, 6-9 and the team's leading scorer, comes off the bench.
"They're huge," said Johnny Dawkins, Duke's skinny all-America guard.
"It looks like some of the Chicago Bears have put on De Paul uniforms," said Krzyzewski.
The key matchup could be that De Paul doesn't really have a small forward, and therefore nobody who stands a good chance of guarding 6-5 David Henderson. And if the Blue Demons spend too much time on Dawkins, they'll get burned by forward Mark Alarie.
"Being No. 1 much of the season, you get everybody's best shot," Henderson said. "We've taken that shot, and given our best shot in return."