Kansas vs. Duke
Spread: Duke -4.5
Moneyline: Duke -205, Kan +175
Tipoff: 10 PM EST From Maui, HI
The sixth ranked Blue Devils are undfeated but now face the tough task of the 14th ranked Kansas Jayhawks. Duke has started 6-0 out of the gates, and is 14-0 at the Maui Invite after their 7 point win. Duke has won 4 titles, the most of any program in the Invite’s history.
So far it is Seth Curry leading the way in scoring for Duke. He is averaging 16.0 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game, to go with 3.2 assists per night and 2.0 steals. He and Rivers are the only Blue Devils averaging more than 30 minutes per game, while Andre Dawkins is seeing 26.6 minutes per night in the backcourt and putting up 10.2 points per game on 45.7% field goal percentage. Rivers is the only of Duke’s backcourt not shooting above 40% from behind the arc. Curry is at 52.4%, while Dawkins is a solid 44% and Ryan Kelly is 40%, as well. So far, Josh Hairston has not been a factor, and Tyler Thornton has been very ineffective.
Last night, against Michigan, it was Austin Rivers who led the way with 20 points on 6 of 14 shooting, including 2 of 5 from deep. Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry both contributed 17 points a piece, and Andre Dawkins came up big with 14. Mason Plumlee had a bit of a disappointing game with only 6 points and 5 rebounds, but he played a lot better than those stats would indicate, as he facilitated well in the offense, and did in fact pick up 2 assists (it seemed like he had 5). Tyler Thornton continues to be a non factor, as 4 of Duke’s 5 starters saw 34 minutes or more in the game.
Kansas has started out the season 3-1, with wins over Towson, Georgetown, and UCLA. Last night against UCLA, Kansas went on to win 72-56. Elijah Johnson had 23 points for the Jayhawks as he shot 8 of 13 from the floor and 4 of 8 from behidn the ar. Thomas Robinson posted a double double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, as well.
Last year, Kansas lost in the Elite 8 to VCU, by a score of 71-61. They finished with a final record of 35-3 and were 14-2 in Big 12 play. The loss to VCU was a disappointing end to what could have been a fantastic season had it been capped off with a title. They were 29-2 in the regular season and swept the Big 12 tournament 3-0. They finished in the top 10 in both adjusted offense and defensive efficiency. They also posted the nation’s best two poitn and effective FG percentages and led the Big 12 in offensive rebounding. That’s going to lead to a lot of wins. If nothing else, Kansas just further proved why they are the toast of the Big 12 conference. Last year marked their fourth consecutive regular season title (actually 7 straight if you count the ties).
6’9 junior forward Thomas Robinson has led the way. He dunks a hell of a lot and was one of the best players in the conference last season. Some compare him to a smaller Dwight Howard, the way he elevates off the floor for thunderous dunks and if he played enough minutes to qualify he would have been 3rd in the nation in offensive rebounding rate and 2nd in defensive rebounding rate. So far, through 4 games, Robinson is averaging 16.0 points per game in 30 minutes of play a night, while also hauling down 11.3 rebounds per game. He is only blocking 1 shot per game right now, but he is also only 6’9″ His 20 point game against Georgetown was strong, as he went 7 of 14 from the floor, grabbed 12 rebounds, and blocked 2 of his 4 blocked shots for the season so far. He has had double digit rebounds in every game, and has indeed posted a double double in every Kansas game so far.
6’3″ senior guard Tyshawn Taylor has been impressive too. He was a good contributor off the bench in his first two years at Kansas, and so far this year he is averaging 15.8 points per game and 3.8 assists per game, while turning it over only 1.8 times per game. He’s better defensively than offensively at this piont, which says something. His decision making must improve, but he is still one of the best point guards in the Big 12 and will be a big factor for the Jayhawks. In fact, his level of play may be one of the determining factors in how far this team can go.
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