In fact, four years ago was the last “platoon” team in which Kentucky went 38-0 and lost a nail-biter to Wisconsin in the Final Four.
Many believed, and still do, that Kentucky would have wiped the floor with the Blue Devils in the championship game. After both schools watched major departures of key players, Kentucky won the head-to-head matchup in the fall of 2015.
Tyler Ulis lead the way with 18 points and six assists in his second season with the Cats.
This fall, Kentucky will meet Duke once again in the Champions Classic. However, this time they’ll be much closer to home, playing in Indianapolis at Banker’s Life Field House.
Both schools are loaded with talent, as Kentucky is on the brink of potentially another “platoon” team and Duke is stacked with athletic wings who resemble the Harlem Globetrotters.
Paul Biancardi (ESPN’s Director of Recruiting) made an appearance on ESPN Louisville to discuss the two teams.
Biancardi said if he had a preference of the two rosters, he’d go with Kentucky due to the amount of experience they’re returning. He mentioned names such as PJ Washington and Quade Green as players for Kentucky with experience as well as players who head coach John Calipari can rely upon. Reid Travis was another name mentioned, even though he’s still learning the ways of Calipari’s system.
“Roster-wise, I liked Kentucky’s because I like the experience coming back. You had an experienced point guard in Quade Green,” said Biancardi. “Reid Travis is an experienced player, although he hasn’t played in the Kentucky system, and you can see that he was still finding his way through the system and the style of Kentucky.
“But I like the roster of Kentucky because of the returners. PJ Washington has really stepped up his body, and he’s stepped up his leadership.”
Biancardi went on to say that the mix of youthful talent and seasoned veterans is why he’d personally go with the Cats.
One flaw for Duke that Biancardi made apparent was that Duke doesn’t have a lot of experience, especially at the point guard position. This is clear after losing both Grayson Allen and Trevon Duval to the NBA Draft this summer.
Biancardi went on to say that Duke has the edge as far as prospects but didn’t leave out that players like Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson and PJ Washington could “play themselves up” like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander a season ago.
We’re just over two and a half months out from these two teams taking the hardwood in Indy. It’s been 30 years since a Kentucky-Duke game was decided by more than 11 points. Don’t expect this year’s matchup to be any different.
Be sure to listen to Biancardi’s full interview here: