Duke vs. Kansas Odds, Picks: Target This First-Half Play in Champions Classic
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Wilson (Kansas)
Duke vs. Kansas Odds
-112o / -108u
-112o / -108u
Let's find out below. We're diving right into the second duel of the Champions Classic from Indianapolis.
The Blue Devils enter Tuesday's contest presumably feeling as good about their start as they could have imagined when offseason workouts began under their new coaching regime.
They have won (and easily covered) both of their first two games, primarily due to impressive defensive efforts. In fact, neither opponent Duke has faced has been able to score 45 or more points.
That fact alone may help explain why the Duke/Kansas total has already been bet down from its 147 opening line.
The roster Duke will have on the floor Tuesday night will look much different than the one that finished its season in New Orleans this past spring.
One of the nation's top freshman is likely to be Dariq Whitehead — that is when he's ultimately healthy enough to make his debut. Whitehead reportedly was able to play a full 5 vs. 5 practice on Sunday, yet he is unlikely to push it in order to play in Tuesday's Champions Classic.
In contrast, Duke's 7-foot-1 other star freshman, Dereck Lively II, made his debut last week against USC Upstate. Lively went 2-of-2 from the field and grabbed two rebounds in only 14 minutes off the bench.
The one key piece providing the continuity from last season is guard Jeremy Roach. Arguably the best player for Duke on its Final Four run, Roach fits in naturally as a leader and the "quarterback" of this year's version of the Blue Devils.
If not Roach, Duke's leading scorer may be one of two other highly-rated freshmen Jon Scheyer was able to reel in for his first go as head coach.
Kyle Filipowski, a 6-foot-11 center, has put up double figures in both of his first two games at the collegiate level.
True freshman Mark Mitchell has also impressed. Mitchell has gone 50% from 3-point range on his way to 18 and 13 points, respectively, in his first two games for Duke, both in a starting role.
Scoring should be much more difficult on Tuesday night against an athletic Kansas roster. The Jayhawks have always taken pride in their defensive effort under Bill Self.
Of course, Self will not be physically on the sideline on Tuesday due to the self-imposed sanctions Kansas announced it would be enforcing.
Still, the message Self preaches in practice should translate to Tuesday night's defensive approach against Duke.
Like the Blue Devils, Kansas brings back very few players who contributed valuable minutes during their national title run last season.
Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun were both taken in the first round of the NBA draft. The threesome of David McCormack, Remy Martin and Mitch Lightfoot finally saw their extensive collegiate careers end with a ring.
The Jayhawks still are able to boast some of the experience that brought the program ultimate success in April, though. Dajuan Harris Jr. and Jalen Wilson were both starters last year and will be the leaders of the backcourt and frontcourt, respectively, this year.
The shooting of Agbaji will be difficult to replace. If anyone could potentially contribute the 3-point prowess he showcased throughout his All-American campaign, it may just be Dick.
Dick profiles as a tall and slender 6-foot-8 wing with one of the quickest releases in the collegiate ranks already. Even a Hall of Fame coach in Self has been quoted early this year admitting Dick "may be the best shooter I have coached."
I would call that a pretty emphatic endorsement coming from a coach who is typically slow to publicly compliment those who share a bench with him.
The hallmark of Self's rosters throughout his time at Kansas has been a standout 5-man that the offense is designed to feature.
From Cole Aldrich to Thomas Robinson to Jeff Withey to Joel Embiid to Udoke Azubuike and last year, McCormack (among many others I failed to mention), Self has been slow to succumb to the "5-out" approach many high-powered offenses now have adopted.
Well, with the lack of a true post stalwart, this year's team may be forced to find offense in a different form than Self's traditional mold.
KJ Adams Jr. and Zach Clemence both played very limited minutes last year, but both could vie for minutes in the role of "5" this year.
Ernest Udeh Jr. is a talented true freshman who also may earn minutes as a physical presence inside.
Finally, Wilson could even guard the opponent's biggest post player if Self makes a concerted effort to go small.
On Tuesday night, don't be surprised to see Wilson spend significant time inside guarding Duke's freshmen Lively and Filipowski as Udeh, Adams and Clemence continue to develop.
When diving deeper into this matchup, the theme that continued to arise was change and youth. The first instance of a nationally-televised game in a stadium with an untraditional shooting backdrop will present a challenge to even the most polished freshmen for both Kansas and Duke.
I would certainly expect talent to eventually overcome nerves. However, don't be surprised to see the nerves show early.
Duke vs. Kansas Betting Pick
I expect to see some anxiousness early from the youthful pieces on both sides. Poor shooting, sloppy passes and generally choppy offense will be a theme until the flow of the game is established.
I am on the first half under, mostly to avoid any potential defensive pressure from the trailing team and free throws leading to additional possessions and points late.
Shaky play tends to show up more on the offensive end early.
I would feel comfortable playing this 1H total at 68.5 or above.