Game 1: No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 4 Duke – Preview and Prediction

After a rocky offseason off the court for the Jayhawks, they can put some of that behind them starting on Tuesday when they tip off the 2019-20 season against the Duke Blue Devils.

  • Tuesday, November 5, 2019, (roughly) 6 PM CDT
  • Madison Square Garden — New York, New York
  • ESPN or ESPN App
  • Kansas enters the season ranked No. 3 in both the AP and Coaches Poll. The Jayhawks have been ranked 5th or higher in each of the last seven preseason polls.
  • Kansas has been ranked in 201 straight AP polls dating back to the 2008-09 season, which is the longest active streak in the nation.
  • Kansas is the preseason pick to win the Big 12 Conference. The Jayhawks have been picked first in 19 of the 24 years of the league.
  • For the first time in the history of the nine-year history of the Champions Classic, all four teams are ranked in the top four of the preseason polls
  • Kansas is 17-5 in games against top 5 teams in the Bill Self era
  • Kansas ranks No. 2 all-time victories with 2,274 , while Duke ranks No. 4 with 2,176 wins.

Duke comes into the season ranked No. 4 in the preseason poll. They lose two mega stars in Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, but Coach K reloads once again with another top recruiting class. The Blue Devils signed the #5 (Vernon Carey Jr.), #9 (Matthew Hurt) and #24 (Wendell Moore) prospects, according to Rivals. Duke, once again, has the talent to compete for a national title.

Blue Devils to Watch

Tre Jones – Sophomore, Guard, 6’3″
Jones is the only hold over from last years fantastic freshmen class. He is poised to be the leader of what will be another young group for the Blue Devils. Last season, Jones 9.4 PPG and 5.3 APG. Jones vs. Devon Dotson should be a great matchup at the point.

Vernon Carey Jr. – Freshman, Center, 6’10″
Carey Jr. is the crown jewel of another star studded freshmen class for Duke. He gets thrown to the fire in his first collegiate game, as he has to go up against the likes of Udoka Azubuike, David McCormack and Silvio De Sousa. At 6’10’, 270 lbs., he should be able to match up physically with the KU frontcourt. He’ll likely be tasked with guarding Azubuike in a battle of uber-physical centers.

Matthew Hurt – Freshman, Power Forward, 6’9″
KU fans remember how Hurt’s recruitment came down to Duke and Kansas, with the five-star stud opting to play for Coach K earlier this spring. He’s very versatile and can pop away from the basket to knock down shots, which could present problems for McCormack or De Sousa. But he also weighs 30 lbs.+ less than either of them, meaning that he could struggle preventing them from getting to the basket on defense.

Prediction

It is the first game of the year against a top-five team, so I think this will be a toss-up. I see it going either way, but I’m going to take the Jayhawks’ depth and experience.

I love KU’s backcourt with Dotson, Marcus Garrett and Ochai Agbaji. I think Agbaji is poised for a breakout season, and barring injury I think he could become a household name by the start of conference season.

The Jayhawks one of their better frontcourts in some time with Azubuike, De Sousa and McCormack. Duke has a talented frontcourt as well, but I’ll take KU’s vets over the Blue Devils’ young guns.

Kansas 74, Duke 71
KU +2.5

AUDIO PREDICTION: LINK (go to 54:55 mark of podcast for preview)

Season Record: 0-0 (0-0 ATS)

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I'm from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I'm a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They'll always come No.1.