Duke Blue Devils (29-7) at Kansas Jayhawks (30-7)
Our undefeated streak in the tournament’s second weekend is alive and well as we picked up another win yesterday. We backed the Loyola Chicago Ramblers as they faced the Kansas State Wildcats. I mentioned in my pick that I thought that Loyola should have been the favorite in this one. To me, they were the more talented squad that has achieved more this season, and the only reason they weren’t the favorite was the fact that most of the public hadn’t heard of them before last weekend.
The media will tell you this is a big Cinderella story, but I don’t see it that way. This is an elite team that does a lot of things well. The Ramblers showed just how good they were yesterday when they stomped a clearly over-matched K-State squad. The game was really close at any point, with the Ramblers running the lead out to twenty points in the second half.
Next, up for Loyola, they match up with a red-hot Michigan team. Will this be the end of the road for Loyola or will they shock the world and win the national title? Tune in next week for that pick! Today we look at the other side of the bracket and break down the matchup between the Duke Blue Devils and the Kansas Jayhawks.
The Duke Blue Devils will play the Kansas Jayhawks Sunday afternoon for the opportunity to advance to the Final Four. Duke spent much of the season ranked in the top five in the nation and nobody is shocked to see Coach K’s team making yet another deep run in March.
The same can be said for Bill Self’s Jayhawks team. Both of these teams belong here. While the other side of the bracket has been all upsets and Cinderellas, this side of the bracket has been all about the blue bloods, and college basketball royalty.
The Blue Devils are -3-point favorites. The game total over-under is set at 155.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:05 PM PST from the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
This is as classic of a matchup as we have had in this tournament. The main storylines in this tournament have been the huge upsets. UMBC becoming the first sixteen seed ever to beat a one seed. Loyola making their improbable run to the Final Four.
Elite programs like Wichita State, Arizona, and Michigan State getting knocked out much too early. But now that we are down to the final game before the Final Four, we are left with two elite teams, from elite programs, both with elite head coaches. What will separate these two today?
The Duke Blue Devils have been my pick to win the national title since the first time I saw Marvin Bagley take the court. I knew right away this kid had a chance to be one of the best player’s I had ever seen in college basketball.
I know that might sound like a little too much hype for a player that has played only one season and missed several games of it with injury, but this kid is truly an all-time great. He has the footwork of Tim Duncan, the wingspan of Kevin Durant, and the shooting stroke of a young Dirk Nowitzki.
I expect Bagley to go to the NBA and absolutely dominate on the next level. Having a player of this caliber is tough for any team to match up with.
It would be tough enough if Duke just had Bagley down low. But they don’t. They also have another top five big man in the game in Wendell Carter Jr.
Carter Jr. could easily be the best player on just about any team in America. Instead, he plays second fiddle to Bagley, and together they make up a near impossible to stop combination down low.
Throw in with this combination of bigs, a feisty and clutch Graysen Allen on the perimeter and a very solid point guard in Gary Trent, and I don’t see how this team doesn’t win the national championship. Kansas will have to find a way to stop both big men if they want to advance.
I liked the Kansas Jayhawks this season, a lot. Somehow a team that had won thirteen straight Big 12 titles managed to play the nobody believes in us underdog card. Many people, myself including, saw them losing out and not winning the Big 12 title this year. The league was just too loaded with talent.
Between Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, and Texas Tech, I saw the historic streak coming to an end this year. I was dead wrong. Not only did Kansas win the big 12 title once again, they won it outright and now hold the record for most constitutive regular season conference titles in a row.
They knocked off a John Wooden at UCLA record. Anytime you are erasing John Wooden from the record books you know you are doing something special.
But I don’t see how the Jayhawks can matchup with Duke in this game. Kansas got their best big man back in Udoka Azubuike, and he looks to be healthy and playing well. They also can lean on Silvio De Sousa, a young man that hadn’t played much all year long but emerged as a force when Azubuike went down with injury. But when you line the Jayhawks up with the Blue Devils, it feels like a mismatch at just about every position.
I see the Blue Devils playing the game from inside out and running everything through the post. You can pencil Bagley in for twenty and ten, and I see Blue winning this one fairly easily.
Double digits would be a bit surprising, but I see Duke winning and covering the three points with relative ease. Kansas will never just lay down in this big of a game, they are too well coached. But in this game, they are just outmatched on the floor.
Give me the Duke Blue Devils to win, advance, and most importantly, cover, tonight from Omaha!