The Duke Blue Devils and Kansas Jayhawks will face off at Madison Square Garden to tip-off the college basketball regular season.
On Tuesday night, No. 4 Duke and No. 3 Kansas will meet for the 13th time in the history of the programs. Duke leads the all-time series 7-5 and will look to add an eighth win tonight. The matchup pits two teams ranked in the preseason top four, and two programs who are among the favorites for the national championship. The Blue Devils, like in years past, will rely on another impressive recruiting class, while Kansas has more seasoned experience. The battle of the Blue Bloods can be seen on ESPN at 7 PM EST.
Duke enters the new season with the third-ranked recruiting class, while Kansas sits at 15th.
For the sixth-straight year, Mike Krzyzewski enters the season with a top-three recruiting class. Coach K has dominated the recruiting process in recent years, and this year’s class yielded four top-37 players in the country. Duke’s class is headlined by big men Vernon Carey and Matthew Hurt. NC native Wendell Moore and Cassius Stanley also will be key players for the Blue Devils this season.
The Jayhawks head into the new season with its lowest-ranked recruiting class since 2016, however that doesn’t mean they are devoid of young talent. Kansas’ class is highlighted by a pair of top-15 forwards in Jalen Wilson and Tristan Enaruna. Unlike Krzyzewski, Bill Self will be heavily reliant on his returning players this season.
Both teams have a few key veterans to help guide the young freshmen.
Despite having a plethora of talented freshmen from both sides in tonight’s game, the returning players have role just as important. For Kansas, their veterans may be even more important, as each of the projected starters has college experience. On the Duke bench, they have several players coming back from last year’s star-studded roster.
Perhaps the most important matchup of tonight’s game will be that of Tre Jones from Duke and Devon Dotson of Kansas. The two guards are among the most talented in the nation, and both will need to be heavy contributors this season. Other key veterans for Duke include Jack White, Javin DeLaurier, and Joey Baker, who is expected by many to have a breakout season. Udoka Azubuike, Kansas’ best player over the past couple seasons will be returning for his senior season.
The Blue Devils will be seeking revenge for their last head-to-head matchup.
The most recent contest between these two teams didn’t go in favor of Duke. On March 25th, 2018, Kansas took down the Blue Devils 85-81 in overtime in the Elite Eight. Duke’s Grayson Allen had an opportunity to win the game in regulation, but the ball rolled off the rim, sending the game to an extra five minutes. The Jayhawks outscored Duke 13-9 in overtime, propelling Kansas to the Final Four, where they would lose to eventual champion, Villanova. Only five Blue Devils remain from that roster, but it’s safe to say that Duke fans haven’t forgotten that loss.
Coming into tonight’s game, it is obvious that the matchup features two of the top teams in the country. A win tonight could become a very early token to land a number-one seed in the 2020 NCAA Tournament. With that being said, there will already be a lot on the line when both teams hit the court at six-o’clock. The game within the game will be one of youth versus experience. In a game of this magnitude, experience should give Kansas the leg up. Fortunately for Duke, they have the supremely talented roster and perhaps the best coach of all time. Blue Devils win it in a moderately close one.