Kentucky Wildcats vs. Duke Blue Devils
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana
Game Time: Approximately 9:30 pm EST on November 6th, 2018
TV: This game will be broadcast on ESPN with announcers Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas and Laura Rutledge.
Radio: Tom Leach and Mike Pratt will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington or online at UKAthletics.com.
National Radio: ESPN Radio (Marc Kestecher/Bob Valvano)
Sirius/XM: 81 / 81 (Duke broadcast); 80 / 80 (National)
All-Time record: Kentucky leads the series 12-9
Last meeting: 11/17/15 in the Champions Classic; Kentucky won 74-63
Records last year: Duke — 29-8; Kentucky — 26-11
Head coaches: Mike Krzyzewski and John Calipari
Odds: Kentucky openened as a 1-point favorite, per VegasInsider. As of gameday, Kentucky is a 1.5-point favorite.
While we wait for the game, get fired up with the latest hype video from Kentucky Wildcats TV:
Game 1 is finally here for the Wildcats as they face the Duke in the Champions Classic.
The annual event will tip off at 7 pm EST with the Michigan State Spartans taking on the Kansas Jayhawks in a battle of preseason top-10 teams. After that game, Kentucky and Duke will clash with a national audience looking on at around 9:30 PM EST.
Kentucky returns an experienced group of sophomores who helped lead the Wildcats the Sweet 16 last season. They also had arguably the best offseason haul of any college team this offseason, including the second-ranked recruiting class and a star graduate transfer in Reid Travis.
On the other side, Duke brought in the ESPN No. 1, 2 and 3 recruits in the Class of 2018 in R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson. good for the top-ranked recruiting class.
Depending on what sportsbook you read, these are the two preseason favorites to win it all next season (Bovada has them at co-favorites at +500), and they’ll face off on the first day of college hoops.
The last time these two teams met was in the 2015 Champions Classic. Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray led the Cats to a 74-63 victory over the 5th ranked Blue Devils and the Cats were ranked No. 2 at the time.
Last season, Duke had a very talented roster but was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by the Kansas Jayhawks in an 85-81 overtime loss. However, this year’s team is going to look completely different from last year, as they have to replace every starter on the team, but they did sign the top three players in the country. However, all three of those guys played the same position, so it will be interesting to see how well they mesh together.
Both of these teams took preseason trips this year. As you know, Kentucky went to the Bahamas, but Duke went to Canada. We all remember the show that the Cats put on against very talented teams. Duke however, didn’t play the same talent level of teams as they played lower division Canadian college teams, but they still had some big moments.
Overall, I would say that the Kentucky trip did two things: It helped this team more because of the talent they had to go up against, and it was more impressive than the Duke trip once again because of the talent that the Cats faced. The Mega Bemax team that Kentucky dominated would later beat Michigan (who played in the title game last year).
For Duke, RJ Barrett was the No. 1 player in the country and is going to be a star this season. He will be tough for any team to slow down. He will be Duke’s first option on offense and will be good at driving and finishing at the rim. However, he isn’t the best shooter from the outside, so Kentucky needs to try and force him to take jumpers.
Zion Williamson is the social media star that we have all seen. His athletic ability to dunk the ball like he does with his size is impressive. He has the power to do damage inside, but he has some major issues when it comes to shooting. Kentucky will need to make him take jumpers and run as much as possible to keep the game at a fast pace.
Cam Reddish is the other freshman star that Duke signed. Reddish is the best shooter of the top three and will have to be given plenty of attention when he is outside. He can also score inside when he needs to. Reddish is not someone the Cats will want to leave open from the outside. He can also run the point if needed so he is able to handle the ball well.
Tre Jones will be the Duke starting point guard this season and is the brother of former Duke point guard Tyus Jones. Tre will not be a shooter like his brother and is more about driving to the rim. He will be a very important player for Duke, as he will have to be a good playmaker and facilitator to make the most out of the three heralded freshmen.
Marques Bolden is a returning junior for Duke and will most likely find himself in a major role. However, the 6-11 big man didn’t have the best performance during the trip to Canada as he failed to even score a point, so he will have to earn that starting role. He has been plagued by injuries a lot in his career so far, but he will be a big factor for the Blue Devil season.
Javin DeLaurier is going to have a much bigger role than he saw last season. The 6-10 junior is limited on offense to finishing around the rim, but he is going to be one of if not the best rebounder on the team. He was a great offensive rebounder a year ago, and that is what Duke is going to need from him this season.
Duke will have some depth on the bench if the others are prepared to step up, but it will be interesting to see if that is the case. The entire college basketball world is ready to watch these two teams face off to start the college basketball season .