(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
The college basketball tip-off is finally upon us, and no better way to celebrate than a great slate of hoops, headlined by the Champions Classic and ACC conference play.
Each week, I’ll write up my top bets with analysis. Most nights I’ll have 2-3 plays, but tomorrow night yields only one.
Cheers to a great season and best of luck to anyone who tails!
#3 Kansas vs. #4 Duke (PK)
7:00 p.m. ET ESPN
The Champions Classic never fails to disappoint, and Tuesday night will once again showcase four blue blood programs with national championship aspirations. The first matchup of the night features the third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks and the fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils.
Bill Self and the Jayhawks enter 2019 as the Big 12 preseason favorites after their fourteen-year reign as Big 12 champs came to an end last season. There is something different about this Jayhawk roster, the length and athleticism Self has at his disposal is comparable to few if any teams in the country. He can run out four-guard lineups or play big with Silvio de Sousa and Udoka Azubuike manning the four and five. Freshman Jalen Wilson, Christan Braun (pronounced Brown), and Tristan Enaruna are all versatile guards who are expected to contribute and will blossom in Selfs system. Add in the returns of Devon Dotson, Marcus Garrett, Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack and the addition of sharpshooting Iowa transfer Isaiah Moss, what does this team lack? Senior forward Mitch Lightfoot who figured to be a key frontcourt reserve this season is redshirting due to the depth the frontcourt possesses.
Coach K and co. once again bring in a top-ranked recruiting class headlined by five star forwards Vernon Carey and Matthew Hurt. Four stars Cassius Stanley and Wendell Moore round out the class. Tre Jones is the backbone of this team, and his two-way play will be a much-needed asset for Coach K. Joey Baker, Alex O’Connell, Jordan Goldwire, and Jack White all figure to show improvements in 2019-20. The concern I have early on for the Dukies is their defensive effort. At times last season the Blue Devils would look lost and disinterested, and at other times string together concerted efforts in consecutive possessions. The Jayhawks have the edge in experience and are also trying to quiet some of the noise surrounding the program due to the recent accusations.
The Blue Devils will no doubt be a tough out come ACC play, but as for tomorrow night, the Kansas Jayhawks will show they are a legitimate national title contender.
Pick: Kansas (PK)
Season YTD: 0-0