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Kansas vs Duke Quick Primer

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Jayhawks take on Blue Devils for a spot in the Final Four.

NCAA Basketball: Champions Classic-Duke vs Kansas Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Following KU’s 80-76 win over Clemson on Friday night, Duke knocked off Syracuse by a 69-65 score. Here’s a quick snapshot of how the two teams stack up.

Kansas-Duke Matchup

Rank in Parentheses KANSAS DUKE
Rank in Parentheses KANSAS DUKE
Record 30-7 (13-5) 29-7 (13-5)
Final AP Rank 4 9
KP Rank 9 2
KP Adj Off Eff 121.5 (5) 123.0 (3)
KP Adj Def Eff 97.5 (47) 93.4 (8)
Off Eff FG% 57.8 (6) 56.5 (16)
Def Eff FG% 48.6 (59) 46.0 (10)
Off Reb % 29.0 (167) 39.2 (1)

Duke is one of those vaunted KenPom top-20 offensive and defensive teams; not only that, but they are in the top-10 of both categories. Additionally, Duke is statistically the best offensive rebounding team in the country, something that does not bode well for Kansas, as the Jayhawks have struggled to keep even mediocre offensive rebounding teams from cleaning up on the glass.

By my admittedly non-coaching eye, Duke seems to have adopted a 2-3 zone, which I believe they have played almost exclusively this tournament. In the Sweet 16, Syracuse appeared to have plenty of open shots, and knocked down 49% of them from the floor. However, the Orange hit just 4-13 threes (30.8%), so Kansas will not only have to hit their shots in the soft spots of that zone, but hit their open threes as well.

Duke’s nine losses this year came by an average of 4.6 points; the Blue Devils have lost just one game by more than 5 points (96-85 at NC State). Barring a statistically unlikely showing from both sides - i.e., KU hitting 60% of its threes to Duke’s 15% - it’s unlikely the Jayhawks will be able to blow out the Blue Devils. However, if KU goes cold from behind the arc - something not unheard of for KU in March - Duke could have an opportunity to run away with this one.

Duke’s freshman frontcourt combo of Wendell Carter Jr and Marvin Bagley III will be a tough matchup for KU. Udoka Azubuike will have the size advantage in the paint, but Duke may try to pull him out to the perimeter to create space and mismatches. The Jayhawks will need productive minutes from Silvio de Sousa and Mitch Lightfoot, especially if Doke gets into foul trouble.

On offense, Kansas will need to attack, attack, attack. The Jayhawks will need “A” games from everyone - Graham, Svi, Newman, Vick, and Doke. If the guards can be aggressive and penetrate, it will open up room for shooters to shoot and for dunkers to dunk. If KU can turn this into a three-point shooting contest, I like their chances.

However you want to look at it, it’s a tough matchup for both squads. It’s not like you can get to the Elite 8 and expect an easy game against a 9 or 11 seed - after all, that’s just ludicrous.