Thursday, April 1, 2010 | 2:06 p.m.
Everyone thinks UNLV has a heated rivalry with Duke and that I have hard feelings toward their program because of the Final Four loss in 1991.
But I have a great respect for the Duke program and coach Mike Krzyzewski. We have a great relationship. I love Mike.
He used to come on my radio show every year and say great things about the kids I coached at UNLV. He would marvel about their athletic ability and tell me what great people those kids were. That shows how classy he is.
His Duke teams play a lot like my teams at UNLV in that they play tough halfcourt defense and they over-play the passing lane.
But I won't be pulling for Duke on Saturday against West Virginia. I will be rooting for my friend Bob Huggins' team.
Bob is one of my closest friends in coaching. It's hard to pull for one team or another, but I am pulling for Huggins because he has never been to a championship game.
West Virginia has a team that can beat Duke. They play physical defense and shoot the ball well. It's going to be a great game. If I had to pick, it would be West Virginia because of its defense. Huggins always tells me how his players physically beat-up whoever they match-up against.
In the other semifinal, I love this Butler team.
I have never met their coach, but I would really like to meet him. I'm going to send him a note anyway and let him know what a good job he is doing.
I love how they play defense. Every time I watch them, I like them more. I picked UTEP against them in the first round, thinking the No. 5 seed was too high. But they are for real.
I think they will beat Michigan State. This is not a typical Michigan State team — they should have lost all four games they've played in the tournament.
They should have lost the first game to New Mexico State, and New Mexico State isn't a very good team. That lane violation call that cost New Mexico State was one of the worst calls I've seen in the tournament. That was a brutal call. You hate to see a team lose that way.
The Final Four is one of the greatest events of all time. We went three of my last five years at UNLV and it was the most exciting time of my career.
I remember each one of those Final Four games like it was yesterday.
Our first trip was in 1977 and we lost by one point to North Carolina. We were up 12 points in the second half and our big man, Larry Moffett, was causing all kind of trouble on the inside.
But he broke his nose when he was accidentally elbowed by Glen Gondrezick. He missed about 10 minutes of game time, and when he came back, the game was tied.
It took us 10 years to get back in 1987 and we lost to Indiana, 97-93, in a game that went back and forth. Gerald Paddio had a 3-pointer go halfway down that would have won the game for us with a few seconds to play. We were forced to foul and they won by four.
We were back in 1990, the year we won it. Our motto that entire year was to not let the game go down to the last whistle. We told our guys we had to win convincingly.
Duke was a very good team, but it was one of those games where everything went perfect for us. If we would have played Duke the next night, the game would have went down to the wire — that's what happened in 1991 when they beat us.