Coming off a disappointing season in which they lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks are looking for a quick bounce-back campaign under Bill Self. They’ll get an early chance to prove how much better they are when they take on the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. The Jayhawks had the easiest schedule in the nation a year ago, which aided them in their 26-10 year, one that may not be the same in a different campaign. There was no category where they ranked inside the top 20 in the nation.
Duke, on the other hand, was led by four talented freshman starters a season ago. They had RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones. All of them were great, though most of them had to deal with injuries at times during the campaign. Jones opted to do what few Blue Devils do and come back for a second year. They lost three starters from last year and will be replacing them with returning players, and more freshmen, including a few five-star recruits who they were able to land.
The spread for this game favors the Jayhawks by 1.5 points, while the over/under is set at 152.5.
Looking For A Good Start
The Jayhawks are going to look very different than they did a year ago, with Dedric Lawson taking off to the NBA, KJ Lawson going to Tulane, Quentin Grimes going to Houston, and Charlie Moore going to DePaul. Redshirt senior guard Isaiah Moss transferred in from Iowa and could provide them with a steady ball-handling presence. Isaac McBride was one of their big freshman recruits, but he is already done with the program. They turn to Christian Braun, Tristan Enanura, Jalen Wilson and Dajuan Harris to try and make an immediate impact here to bolster the roster.
Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson are their top two returning players from a year ago with Dedric Lawson moving to the NBA and Lagerald Vick running out of eligibility. We’ll see if the two of them can step up and lead.
The Blue Devils had two players graduate and lost Redish, Williamson and Barrett to the lure of the NBA. Jones decided he wanted another go-round with the Blue Devils, though, after he averaged nine points and five assists per game as a strong floor general. The Blue Devils have three five-star recruits who come in ready to perform immediately. Wendell Moore should slot in as the starting small forward, while Vernon Carey Jr. will give them their best center in several years. Matthew Hurt will take over for Williamson as the starting 4, while Cassius Stanley may come in as the shooting guard.
They already have a tremendous class of 2020 lined up and ready to go, and coach Mike Krzyzewski is ready to work his magic.
Duke Begins With A Win
Led by a strong Jones performance and Carey double-double, the Blue Devils will get the W.
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