What are the unique challenges that Mississippi State's size presents to you? And are they the biggest team that you have faced all year?
"They are as big. When Maryland has everybody healthy, they are big. But Mississippi State is really big. So, we have to keep our big guys on the court. We have to be careful about silly fouls, not that any foul isn't silly. We don't have the depth with the big guys. They are one of the better rebounding teams in the country. That will be the key aspect of the game."
How big of a challenge will Lawrence Roberts be to your team? And have you played a player similar to him?
"Lawrence has good ball skills. He has great hands and can go inside or outside. He is a good basketball player, not just a good big man. There is no question that he is one of the most talented kids in the country. He is a really good player."
In all five of your losses, your team was out-rebounded. Is that an area you are concerned about against Mississippi State?
"We have been out-rebounded in games that we have won, also. But, obviously, that is an area that this team has to work on all the time. And that is one of (Mississippi State's) strengths. They go after the boards hard and they can push it up real well. We have to hold our own (Sunday). If we don't, then we can get beat. And we probably will get beat if they hammer us on the boards.
"We know that Mississippi State can definitely beat us. They are talented and veterans. They were a number 2 seed in our region last year and they've lost just one guy. They have four seniors starting and have one of the best players in the country. They are a really good basketball team."
After his team's win over Stanford, Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury kind of openly solicited support from the North Carolina fans...
"He doesn't have to solicit." (All the reporters laughed.) "Tell Rick don't spend any more time on that, because the votes are in. And it's like Chicago where they vote three or four times."
What do you expect from the crowd Sunday? And does it really matter?
"It doesn't matter to me. Believe me, I've been in places where every person in the place has booed me. Then, I walked out of my house. If I can't get one person cheering for me there, then... I haven't taught my dogs to clap for me.
"Believe me, that comes with the territory. We won't win or lose because of that crowd."
Has having so many North Carolina fans here negated the homecourt advantage that you would normally have playing in your home state?
"I really didn't notice the crowd at all yesterday. When we shot around here for the open practice, I thought that the crowd was really good. I notice it then more than I do when you are into the ballgame. To be quite frank with you, it's better to have noise than no noise. One of the problems in the NCAA Tournament is how quiet it is. There are a lot of people there, but nobody is cheering, so it's very quiet."
Do you want your players to get caught up in the excitement of the NCAA Tournament?
"Certainly, they should get caught up in it. It's a great event. We're lucky to be in it. It's ok to be nervous, but it's not ok to be scared. Nervous means it means something to you. That's good. But how do you translate that into positive action?"
Were you surprised how well guard Sean Dockery played against Delaware State coming back from his injury?
"What he did was absolutely remarkable. Just four weeks after tearing his MCL, he played 24 minutes. And he didn't miss a beat. I never expected that. Today (Saturday), he is a little bit sore, but he is doing well."
What was your plan for J.J. Redick this year, especially with the transformation of his body?
"He was already a heck of a player, especially as a shooter. I think after been in the league for two years, he found that there are a lot of athletic people who play him, sometimes two, three and even four guys a ballgame. So, it wasn't like it was me against you. It was two or three guys who might be better athletes than him. Common sense-wise, how do you compete against that? The best way to compete is to be in great shape. You have to have strength, but you have to really have endurance. You also have to be able to think while you are playing.
"The transformation is not that huge from the end of last season. When people say he lost 20-something pounds, that is what he weighed in May. He was in good shape last year, but he is in exquisite shape right now. As a result, you have to beat him. He is not going to beat himself."
Why do you think the Duke name is so polarizing to other teams and their fans?
"I would think it is because we have won a lot. It is a good problem to have. We play hard and try to win. When you win, whatever comes wtih the territory, you need to accept."
Mary Ann Swindoll is the editor of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.