Duke basketball primed for victory in showdown against Kansas

Duke basketball guard Jeremy Roach (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball guard Jeremy Roach (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball schedule finally sees some real competition on Tuesday night. 

The annual clash of blue bloods in the State Farm Champions Classic takes place in Indianapolis on Tuesday night as the Duke basketball program will look to stay perfect on the season against the Kansas Jayhawks, the defending National Champions.

The rosters look vastly different from both team’s Final Four appearances last year but the programs bring in Top-5 classes of freshmen that are looking to make a statement in their national debuts.

Both teams are unbeaten to begin the season but neither has played stiff competition, however, the programs will be without significant pieces entering the highly anticipated showdown.

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No. 6 Kansas (2-0) will be without Bill Self on the sidelines due to a self imposed suspension stemming back to the 2017 FBI investigation into college basketball, although Stadium insider Jeff Goodman has reported that the head coach has been with the team in its practices in Indianapolis.

No. 7 Duke (2-0) is likely to be without five-star freshman wing Dariq Whitehead who is still recovering from foot surgery in early October.

Whitehead is getting closer to a return to live action as the Blue Devils saw the debut of freshman center Dereck Lively (calf) on Friday night against USC Upstate where he logged 14 minutes coming off the bench.

Duke basketball keys to defeating Kansas

Defense Must Shine

Duke’s defense has been the best in the country in the first two games of the season.

Now, is that because the Blue Devils played Jacksonville and USC Upstate at home or is it become its defense, without one of its best players, is truly elite?

Well, we will find out quickly whether or now the Duke defense is legit.

Jon Scheyer has seen his team only surrender a total of 82 points through two games, its fewest total points allowed through the first two games of a season since the 1946-47 campaign.

Junior Jalen Wilson leads the way for Kansas with 20.0 points per game while freshman guard Gradey Dick is posting 17.5 points per contest early in his freshman campaign.

Limit Kansas to One Shot

Kansas is averaging 14.5 offensive rebounds per game and Duke must hold the Jayhawks to one shot down the floor each possession.

Duke is pulling down a whopping 51.0 defensive rebounds per contest and only allowing its opponents to average 7.0 rebounds per game, although those numbers are likely inflated due to the poor competition this season.

However, the Blue Devils are one of the biggest teams in the country while Kansas does not have a player in its starting lineup taller that 6-foot-8 and that must play a major factor in this game.

If Duke dominates the glass it is likely they will leave Indianapolis with a Top-10 victory.

March Jeremy Roach Must Appear

Jeremy Roach made his introduction to the world during his incredible March run where he aided the Blue Devils to the Final Four.

Now, as a junior captain on this Duke team this is his first chance to replicate those performances against a quality opponent.

Roach is averaging 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 50.0-percent from the field and 46.2-percent from 3-point range but it will be his leadership that needs to be at the forefront of Tuesday’s battle.

Duke has had some incredible performances in the Champions Classic from players such as Grayson Allen, Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Paolo Banchero and it could be time for Jeremy Roach to join that list of accomplished Blue Devils.

Tipoff is scheduled for approximately 9:30p.m. ET on ESPN.

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