Duke Blue Devils vs Kansas Jayhawks College Basketball Preview

The Duke Blue Devils will look to ground the Kansas Jayhawks on Tuesday evening when the two play the second leg of the State Farm Champions Classic. The two blue blood programs will meet for the sixth time since 2011, all of which have taken place on neutral courts and five times having been played in the month of November.

The Blue Devils won the most recent matchup in 2019 by a count of 68-66, with the previous three meetings going to the Jayhawks. The total margin of victory over the six most recent meetings is only 24 points, with only the 2013 contest being decided by double-digit points. Kansas is favored in this matchup by (-2), with the total set at 144.5 points.

Blue Devils Looking to Get Healthy

Duke has been relatively lucky over the years as far as health goes. Obviously, there are exceptions, as we all remember Zion going down with a foot injury briefly while Kyrie Irving played only 11 games for the Devils before being lost to injury and then the NBA. Some would point to Harry Giles, but even he managed to play 26 games in his lone season under Coach K.

This season, the Blue Devils landed two of the best players in the 2022 only to have to wait patiently to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively both missed the Blue Devil season opener; Whitehead suffered a foot fracture in August while Lively had a lower leg injury.

Lively was able to suit up for Duke’s matchup with USC-Upstate last week, playing 15 minutes and logging four points, two rebounds, and two blocks. He is likely to continue seeing more and more time, while it is unlikely that Whitehead hits the floor for this contest. Better to have him for the possible title run than a handful of games in November/December.

Despite their absence, coach Jon Scheyer is not without talent. Two other freshmen, Mark Mitchell (15.5 points 4.0 rebounds) and Kyle Filipowski (12.5 points, 11.0 rebounds), are combining with junior point guard Jeremy Roach to hold down the fort in the meantime.

The Blue Devils have only shot 34% from deep so far this season but are holding opponents under 22% from deep while outrebounding opponents 96-52 thus far.

Jayhawks Need to Take Flight

Kansas may be 2-0 and may have won their first two games but 20+ points, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have impressed. The Bill Self-less Jayhawks struggled with Pittsburgh State in their exhibition game and never really pulled away from Omaha until the final 10 minutes of the game.

In their most recent contest against North Dakota State, they were dominant from the tip, but the Bison are 0-3 and just lost to Pacific.

With Coach Self still out for another couple of games, taking on Duke will be a real task for coach Norm Roberts. Not only is Bill Self gone, but so is staff staple Kurtis Townsend, removing another experienced basketball mind from arguably the highest-profile matchup of the week.

One of the more interesting matchups for the game, and one that likely favors Kansas, is Dajuan Harris against Jeremy Roach. Harris is a tremendous defender as his All-Conference defensive team selection last season would indicate, and could prevent Roach from getting the young Devils in a position to be successful.

Pick and Prediction

Despite the Jayhawks being down two really good coaches, one being a two-time national champion, you should take Kansas to cover. This the biggest game of Jon Scheyer’s young head coaching career, and he is, without arguably his best player and his second best player, likely won’t be 100%.

The Harris vs. Roach matchup can’t be understated and will likely be the difference in the contest. It is also going to be interesting to see who tries to slow down Jalen Wilson, who is averaging a double-double early in the season.

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