The Duke Blue Devils take on the Kansas Jayhawks. Check out our college basketball odds series for our Duke Kansas prediction and pick.
The Kansas Jayhawks are the defending national champions. This game is the first true measure of their form and fitness, and how much fortitude they have. Last season's team played its best basketball in March. It had a few stumbles, most notably in first halves against Miami and North Carolina plus some late drama against Creighton, but Kansas was clearly the better team than its opponent for at least 20 minutes in each of those three contests. Kansas played complete games in its other three NCAA Tournament wins against Texas Southern, Providence, and Villanova. The Jayhawks should a lot of resourcefulness and adaptability. It's how they returned to the pinnacle of the college basketball world for the first time since 2008. Coach Bill Self reaffirmed why he is one of the best in the business.
This year's team has a different roster after the departure of key pieces from the championship squad. What is also notable about this game at the Champions Classic is that Self won't be coaching on the bench for the Jayhawks. He is serving a four-game suspension for his role in creating a wayward program. It might be a slap on the wrist in a much larger context, but this is the big game in which Self's absence might have a big impact. It will be fascinating to see how these Jayhawks handle the moment without Self. It will be intriguing to see how Self's assistants are able to manage this game.
Does Duke have a clear advantage over Kansas in coaching, however? Jon Scheyer enters his first really big game as the successor to program icon Mike Krzyzewski. Not seeing Coach K on the bench for a big-time college basketball game against Kansas, another blue-blood program in the sport, will be very weird, but it's part of the new reality. Scheyer, a guard who played for Coach K on Duke's 2010 national championship team, steps into a role similar to what Hubert Davis faced in Year 1 at North Carolina last year, taking over at a storied program after a legend of the game stepped down. Hubert Davis replaced Roy Williams. Scheyer replaces Coach K. This is the biggest single point of uncertainty and national interest in Tuesday's game.
Courtesy of FanDuel, here are the Duke-Kansas College Basketball odds.
College Basketball Odds: Duke-Kansas Odds
Duke Blue Devils: -2.5 (-108)
Kansas Jayhawks: +2.5 (-112)
Over: 145.5 (-105)
Under: 145.5 (-115)
Why Duke Could Cover the Spread
This is a very simple game: Bill Self will not be coaching Kansas, so the Jayhawks won't have their leader. Duke will be less hamstrung in terms of its coaching situation than Kansas will. Also, the Jayhawks have a new roster without some of the key components of their championship formula from last season.
Why Kansas Could Cover the Spread
Jon Scheyer is such a wild card here, and he will probably need to learn on the job a little bit before we pick Duke to beat other really good teams in college basketball. Just wait a little bit; don't immediately assume Duke will do everything right.
Final Duke-Kansas Prediction & Pick
This is a game you should stay away from because the coaching dynamics are weird and uncertain. If you insist on a pick, go with Kansas.
Final Duke-Kansas Prediction & Pick: Kansas +2.5