Duke (29-7) vs Kansas (30-7)
When: Sunday, March 25th 2018
Where: CenturyLink Center, Omaha, NE
Time: 5:05 ET | TV: CBS
Opening Odds: Duke -3/154.5
With all the upsets and lower seeds wreaking havoc in this NCAA Tournament, its refreshing to know that a couple of traditional blue bloods are still left. The Duke Blue Devils and the Kansas Jayhawks, who are fourth and second respectively in all-time NCAA wins, will battle in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday afternoon for the right to advance to the Final Four. The No. 2 seeded Blue Devils and top-seeded Jayhawks have combined to win eight NCAA titles, including three of the last 10, and will be playing for the 12th time. Duke leads the series 7-4, but the Jayhawks have won three of the last four meetings, but it was the Blue Devils who defeated the Jayhawks, 72-65, in Indianapolis in 1991 to claim their first national championship. Kansas battled through a very tough Big 12 schedule to extend its record 14th straight regular season title, and are in the Elite Eight for the third straight year. The Jayhawks jumped out to a 20-point lead early in the second half before holding off Clemson, 80-76, on Friday night in the Sweet 16. Kansas was in this position last year, but lost 74-60 to the Oregon Ducks to deny the Jayhawks a 15th Final Four berth. Duke will be trying to advance to the Final Four for the 17th time after grinding out a 69-65 victory over Syracuse and is back in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2015 – the year the Blue Devils went on to win their fifth NCAA championship. Duke shot just 39.3%, including 5-of-26 from 3-point range, and were outrebounded 37-33 in the victory over Syracuse on Friday. The winner will play either Texas Tech or Villanova next weekend in San Antonio.
The Blue Devils have a talented group that includes four freshman starters that helped coach Mike Krzyzewski pick up his 1,100th career coaching victory and 94th career tournament win against Syracuse, both NCAA records. Two of the freshmen, forward Marvin Bagley III (21.2 ppg, 11.1 rpg), who was named ACC Player and Rookie of the Year, and 6’10” Wendell Carter Jr. (13.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg) are both both projected as top 10 draft picks. Guards Gary Trent Jr. (14.4 ppg) and Trevon Duval (10.0 ppg, 5.6 apg) also average double-digits. Floor-leader and senior guard Grayson Allen had 15 points and eight assists to lead Duke in Friday night’s win but was just 3-of-14 from 3-point range.
Seven-foot center Udoka Azubuike has been playing with a left knee brace to help support a MCL injury suffered in a March 6th practice that forced him to sit out the Big 12 Tournament and play just three minutes in a 76-60 opening-round win over Pennsylvania. Azubuike is back and averaging 12 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in the last two games while connecting on 11-of-14 shots despite limping noticeably at times. He will be a key piece in trying to defend the formidable Duke frontcourt. The Jayhawks do have the edge in the backcourt, however, led by Big 12 Player of the Year Devonte’ Graham (17.3 ppg, 7.4 apg), senior Svi Mykhailiuk (14.8 ppg), sophomore Malik Newman (13.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and junior Lagerald Vick (12.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg).
Despite earning another trip to the Elite Eight, this Kansas team hasn’t looked as good as the Blue Devils thus far. The Jayhawks struggled with Penn and Seton Hall before having to hold off Clemson. Duke is more athletic and will win this game in the paint with Bagley and Carter dominating.
Pick: Duke -3
- Blue Devils are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS loss.
- Blue Devils are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Sunday games.
- Blue Devils are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
- Blue Devils are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games overall.
- Blue Devils are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 neutral site games.
- Blue Devils are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Blue Devils are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Blue Devils are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 vs. Big 12.
- Blue Devils are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 NCAA Tournament games.
- Jayhawks are 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Jayhawks are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 vs. Atlantic Coast.
- Over is 12-2 in Blue Devils last 14 non-conference games.
- Over is 8-2 in Blue Devils last 10 neutral site games.
- Under is 9-3 in Blue Devils last 12 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Under is 8-3 in Blue Devils last 11 overall.
- Under is 5-2 in Blue Devils last 7 games following a ATS loss.
- Over is 7-3 in Blue Devils last 10 vs. Big 12.
- Under is 9-4 in Blue Devils last 13 games following a straight up win.
- Over is 4-0 in Jayhawks last 4 Sunday games.
- Over is 6-1 in Jayhawks last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Over is 4-1-1 in Jayhawks last 6 overall.
- Over is 4-1 in Jayhawks last 5 games following a straight up win.
- Over is 4-1-1 in Jayhawks last 6 neutral site games.
- Under is 4-1 in Jayhawks last 5 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Over is 5-2 in Jayhawks last 7 NCAA Tournament games.
- Under is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings.
- Blue Devils are 1-4 ATS in the last 5 meetings.