Duke Basketball: Blue-Bloods Set to Square Off For Final Four Berth

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 23: Gary Trent Jr.
OMAHA, NE - MARCH 23: Gary Trent Jr. /

The Duke Blue Devils will be looking for a berth into the Final Four as they take on the Kansas Jayhawks in the Elite 8.

Here it is. Duke. Kansas. With a berth to the Final Four on the line.

Does it get much better than that?

Well, for the players its business, as usual, trying to prepare for the opponent.

For Duke, it easier said than done, but they have to defend the three-point line. Kansas is an excellent three-point shooting team, 40.5% to be exact, and they are going to let it fly Sunday night.

The best three-point shooters for Kansas are Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman, shooting 45.1 and 41.5% from deep.

But you cannot forget about Devonte Graham. Graham is Kansas’ best player and he shoots 40.4% from three too. Graham has struggled shooting the ball thus far in the tournament, but the Blue Devils can’t count on that to continue.

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Lagerald Vick is also a 38.3% three-point shooter, so obviously, the Blue Devils will have their hands full.

Kansas could be able to take advantage of the zone in the corners. Duke has struggled to defend the corner three, as well as the short corner, just inside the arc. If Kansas is able to take advantage of this soft spot in the zone, as well as hitting their other perimeter jumpers, the Blue Devils will have their hands more than full.

All of this without even mentioning Udoka Azubuike. The 7 foot, 280-pound monster shoots 77.5% from the floor, with most of his shots coming in the paint. Azubuike has been a little foul prone, so it should be a priority to work the ball inside and try to get Azubuike in foul trouble.

Should Azubukie get in foul trouble, Bill Self will turn to Silvio De Sousa who has come on strong late in the season. Fellow big man Mitch Lightfoot doesn’t have the game or physical makeup to compete with the Duke bigs.

Offensively, Duke will be glad not to see the 2-3 zone of Syracuse, but Self has utilized the zone this season, albeit very rarely.

Duke will clearly need a better performance from their guards. Trevon Duval, Grayson Allen, and Gary Trent Jr. cannot combine to go 5-25 from three-point range.

The good thing for the Blue Devils going 5-25 from deep?

They still managed to put up 69 points.

Getting to the free throw line, combined with playing through Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. will be the biggest key for Duke.

Unlike in previous years, Kansas plays a four-guard lineup, along with Azubukie so either Bagley or Carter will have a major advantage, whoever Auzubukie isn’t guarding.

It’s going to be tough. CenturyLink Center will be filled with mostly Kansas fans, but Grayson Allen has to take charge and be the senior leader he has been all year. He is the only one on this Duke team that has been on this stage.

If Duke is able to run Kansas off the three-point line, get Udoka Azubuike in foul trouble, and keep working through Bagley and Carter, they will win.

Prediction: Duke 81 Kansas 75