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Kentucky Wildcats vs Duke Blue Devils: The X-Factor

Who will be the x-factor for Kentucky getting a win over Duke?

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky plays Duke tonight, and although it is a marquee, early-season matchup, both John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski know that the teams that will take the floor will look almost nothing like the teams that will be taking the floor in February and March.

That being said, anytime Kentucky and Duke get together on a basketball court, it is a big deal and understandably so.

On that note, for Kentucky to win, Tyler Ulis has to play well on both ends.

This is Tyler Ulis' team. He may not be the most talented player on the floor. He definitely is not the biggest player on the court. However, I think he is one of the leaders on this team, and he can make players around him better. The Wildcats will need Ulis to manage the offense and defend very well to pick up the win.

Starting on offense, Ulis will be in command for most of the game. Ulis is excellent at distributing the ball, and will look to do that quite frequently against the Blue Devils. The key will be for him to limit his turnovers. He did that very well against NJIT, only committing one turnover in 31 minutes on the floor. Against Albany, it was a slightly different story. He turned the ball over five times that game.

If Ulis keeps control of the game and avoids turnovers, I believe Kentucky will have a strong night offensively.

Defensively, Ulis will have a major task before him: guarding Duke's Grayson Allen.

After coming to national prominence in last year's National Title Game, Allen has played really well early in the season. He is averaging 27 points per game, while shooting 52 percent from the field, 42 percent from behind the arc, and 94 percent from the free throw line. KenPom has rated him the second most efficient player in college basketball.

I would suspect Calipari will look to rotate defenders on Allen, but I believe Ulis will see his fair share of time defending the Duke guard. If Ulis can throw Allen off his game, there is a good chance that the Duke offense sputters.

It will take a total team effort for the Wildcats to come out on top Tuesday, but Tyler Ulis must play well in order to put the Wildcats in a position to win.