We’ve already addressed the fact that the addition of Reid Travis makes UK the No. 1 team on ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 25, but the head oddsmaker at Westgate isn’t impressed enough yet.
Head Westgate oddsmaker said Duke would be favored by 2.5 points over Kentucky on a neutral court. He considers Duke the top team and Kentucky second-best, "for now". https://t.co/OnpAILiOu3— Doug Kezirian (@DougESPN) June 20, 2018
Kentucky’s current roster for 2018-19 has eight current or former five-star prospects on it (from at least one major recruiting service): Travis, Quade Green, EJ Montgomery, PJ Washington, Immanuel Quickley, Ashton Hagans, Keldon Johnson and Nick Richards. Meanwhile, Duke is bringing in all three of the top three recruits in RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish.
It’d be a showdown, no doubt, but Kentucky has a depth advantage that’d do them wonders on a neutral court. They also, in a rare turn of a events, have the more experienced team with Travis, Green, Washington and Richards all having at least one collegiate season under their belts.
The only veterans Duke has that will play meaningful minutes are Marques Bolden, Alex O’Connell and Javin DeLaurier. Those three combined to score a whopping 10/6 points per game last season.
Las Vegas will probably flip-flop on this quite a bit this offseason, and Duke and Kentucky will likely remain the top two favorites (with some Kansas takers) until the season starts.
In that meantime, let’s take a look back at the last time these two programs faced off in the Champions Classic: