The Duke basketball team will face its toughest challenge yet in the young season.
We are a couple of weeks into the college basketball season and the Duke basketball matchup against Arkansas might need to be injected with some excitement because mainly of the Razorbacks struggles.
No. 7 Duke’s (5-1) only loss on the season came against Arizona, which is looking like a real contender for the National Championship, while Arkansas (4-3) is struggling to find its footing and recently fell out of the Top-25 after dropping three of its last four games.
Heading into a raucous environment at Bud Walton Arena will be a real challenge for the Blue Devils as the Razorbacks will be motivated and looking to get back in the win column. However, they might be doing it without the services of starting wing Tramon Mark, who was injured late in the game in their loss to North Carolina.
Losing Mark would be a major blow as he is Arkansas’ leading scorer at 18.4 points per game.
Duke will look to capitalize on the Razorback’s recent struggles and get off to a good start in one most hostile environments in college basketball, but will need big games on both sides of the ball from their perimeter players Tyrese Proctor, Jeremy Roach, Jared McCain, and Caleb Foster.
The Blue Devils are shooting 35-percent from the perimeter and they will need to make some shots to keep the Arkansas defense honest.
Rebounding as a team and pushing the pace will be key for Jon Scheyer’s team, as will attacking the middle third of the court for possible easy baskets or drive-and-kick situations. Arkansas guards aren’t known for their defense, so making them move their feet could pay enormous dividends for the Blue Devils.
Defensively, keeping those guards and wings out of the paint will be crucial because players like Davonte Davis, Khalif Battle, and El Ellis are all offensive-minded players who look to get their shots off in bunches.
Duke basketball veteran forwards will be biggest key to victory
Mark Mitchell has been solid so far this season, but Duke will need more from him as he will likely guard the ultra-athletic Trevon Brazile.
Mitchell will have to keep him off the glass and look to score to negate the weakside help defense and shot-blocking presence that Brailze brings.
Kyle Filipowski has looked unstoppable through six games so far. He’s averaging 18.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. He is stronger, moving much better, and playing more confidently.
His defense was a subject of speculation with the departure of Dereck Lively II and his sliding into the center position, but he’s held up and looked serviceable on that side of the ball. Matching up with Makhi Mitchell, who isn’t much of an offensive threat and is very foul-prone, should allow Filipowski to help deter Brazile from having a big night.
Despite a legacy of success and undeniable talent on Arkansas, the team has faced hurdles that have tested their resilience. Internally, there is a struggle to identify roles on the court and its defensive performance has been subpar, with difficulties in containing opponents and moments of visible confusion.
Basketball enthusiasts can anticipate a war on Wednesday night in Fayetteville.
For Duke, this presents an opportunity to get its young freshman some minutes and experience against a top-tier team.
For Arkansas, it’s a chance to get back in the win column.
The clash is undoubtedly poised to be a compelling must-watch.