BUENOS AIRES, AUG. 12 -- Mike Krzyzewski has taken his Duke University teams to some tough arenas that provide huge advantages to the opposition. When his U.S. team plays Argentina Monday night, it will be going against a whole country, even a hemisphere.
The United States opens the quarterfinal round of the World Championships against the host country, and Argentines everywhere are ready for the challenge.
"It's much different than that," Krzyzewski said when he was asked to compare this matchup with what collegiate teams encounter on the road. "For Argentina, this is a thing for the whole country, not just a university, and they are a very emotional, very proud people. It will create an atmosphere that will be the most unusual any of us will have ever had an experience with."
It doesn't seem to matter that the game is the first of three for each country in the quarterfinal round. Argentina is focused only on the United States.
The game will be televised nationally and ticket sales -- despite costs ranging from $25 to $70, extremely high in a country with severe economic problems -- are brisk. A sellout crowd of 6,500 is expected.
The atmosphere is expected to be akin to that of World Cup soccer matches: choreographed cheers, singing and dancing, and a fervent belief in the home team.
The fans in the least expensive seats behind the baskets are kept from the court by an eight-foot high wrought-iron fence with spikes turned inward.
"For our youngsters, if we can beat them under those conditions and keep our poise, I think it will be a great game for us," Krzyzewski said. "It won't just be a win but a character builder as well."
The United States and Argentina are in a quarterfinal group with Australia and Puerto Rico, which also play Monday. The top two teams from each group advance to Friday's semifinals.
The other bracket -- which Brazil Coach Helio Garcia describes as the "Death Group" -- opens with Brazil playing Yugoslavia and Greece meeting the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union won the Olympic gold medal at Seoul in 1988 and Yugoslavia was the runner-up. Brazil won the 1987 Pan Am Games with a victory over the United States for the gold medal, and Greece was the 1988 European champion and runner-up last year.
"The other group is truly international and very tough," Krzyzewski said. "Those are truly international teams there and we would have had to adjust to their styles if we had been in there."