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The man who will be calling the Utah-Duke game for CBS on Friday night Jim Nantz won't be surprised if there's an upset. And not just because he's seen more than his share of upsets in 30 years of calling the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
"I think the Utes definitely have a chance," Nantz told The Salt Lake Tribune. "I think in this tournament, we too often get lulled into thinking of some foregone conclusion. And then the next thing you know, Lehigh beats Duke, as happened three years ago. Or Mercer beats Duke, like what happened last year."
Nantz who began covering the NCAAs for CBS in 1986, shortly after he was hired away from KSL-Ch. 5 would be considerably less surprised to see Duke's run end against Utah than how the Blue Devils were eliminated two of the past three seasons.
"Here we are with a team that's been in the top 10 this season, the University of Utah, coming out of a major conference, in the Sweet 16, going against a Duke program that's lost to the likes of Lehigh and Mercer," he said. "They definitely have a chance. It's going to be tough to beat them because these guys are hitting on all cylinders, but the Utes are on a roll, too.
"It's one game, and plenty of startling, shocking upsets have happened that were far bigger upsets than Utah as a 5 seed beating Duke as a 1 seed. It's going to be strength against strength."
The veteran sportscaster isn't buying the theory that the Utes, who are in the tournmanent for the first time since 2009, will be intimidated by Duke, which has made the tournament 20 years in a row and 31 of the past 32 years, winning four titles.
"I used to think the same thing, but I really find today that these players [are] pretty unphased by that," Nantz said. "It's more something we build up in our heads because we imagine if we were put in that position, we'd say, 'Oh my gosh it's Duke.'
"I don't think these kids think that way. I think they believe it's their time. I think everybody's that's still alive in this thing, they all think there's some sort of fate or destiny and they're bound to end up in Indianapolis [at the Final Four] next week."
The Blue Devils enter the game not only as the favorite but as the media stars. The Utes aren't nearly as familiar to the nation's basketball fans.
"A lot of people in the country don't know much about the Runnin' Utes," Nantz said. "It will be my great pleasure to tell their story on Friday night and maybe even beyond."
Including the story of how Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak inherited a team coming off back-to-back losing seasons, went 6-25 in his first season and, three years later, has them in the Sweet 16.
"It's pretty amazing," Nantz said. "It's a tremendous reflection on Coach K.
"That's going to be some fun on its own, just talking about the two the battling Coach Ks."
(Krystkowiak and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, that is.)
"I think it's going to be a great game. And the Utes have a great chance to surprise a few people."
Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.