March Madness 2018: Kansas vs. Duke matchup, pick, predictions

Kansas and Duke square off in a battle of blue bloods for a trip to the Final Four.

For the second consecutive game in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region, each of the coaches on the sideline will be a Hall of Famer.

As was the case when Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim faced Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski on Friday evening, Kansas coach Bill Self can tell stories if he wishes about his induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

MORE: NCAA Tournament bracket

One of the coaches, Krzyzewski, will be trying to reach the national semifinals for the 13th time. That would give him the record for Final Four appearances; he currently is tied with UCLA legend John Wooden.

The other, Self, will be trying to reach his third Final Four after losing seven times previously in the Elite Eight – including two prior trips with seniors Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham.

March Madness Matchup:

Kansas vs. Duke

How to watch

The Elite Eight matchup between Kansas and Duke will tip at 5:05 p.m. ET. It will air on CBS and can be live-streamed on fuboTV (7-day free trial).

No. 1 Kansas

Coach: Bill Self
Overall record: 30-7
Scoring leader: Devonte’ Graham, 17.3 ppg
Rebounding leader: Udoka Azubuike, 7.0 rpg
Assists leader: Devonte’ Graham, 7.4 apg
Famous non-athlete alum: Paul Rudd, actor

No. 2 Duke

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
Overall record: 29-7
Scoring leader: Marvin Bagley, 21.2, ppg
Rebounding leader: Marvin Bagley, 11.1, rpg
Assists leader: Trevon Duval, 5.6 apg
Famous non-athlete alum: Ken Jeong, actor

Best storyline

In a tournament defined by upsets and unpredictability, the Midwest Region has given us No. 1 (Kansas) vs. No. 2 (Duke). They are two of the four winningest programs in history, legitimate “bluebloods” whose presence in the Final Four will add some sparkle to the proceedings. But that’s true of either of them. So the fun is in finding out which can survive.

Best individual matchup: Kansas senior Svi Mykhailiuk vs. Duke freshman Marvin Bagley

Any team playing Duke, because of the Blue Devils’ conversion to zone, no longer is engaged in individual matchups when in possession of the ball. This mitigates some of the advantage KU might enjoy because the Blue Devils are employing two big men, one of whom otherwise would have to pursue Mykhailiuk along the perimeter. But it doesn’t change anything for Kansas on D; Self still must figure out how to cope with the massive size differential between Mykhailiuk (6-8, 205) and Bagley (6-11, 235).

“Everybody’s talking about, How do we match up with them?” Self said. “Well, hopefully, we can be in a game that forces them to kind of play a little differently to match up with us.”

Most eye-popping stat

Krzyzewski has coached Duke for 38 seasons. Only two of those ended with the designation as “Elite Eight” teams. Krzyzewski is 12-2 in NCAA Tournament regional finals, losing only in 1998 (to eventual national NCAA champion Kentucky) and in 2013 (to eventual NCAA champion Louisville).

Get to know…

Gary Trent Jr., Duke freshman wing. It’s still possible he is only the second-best basketball player in his family. Gary Trent Sr. was a spectacular power forward for the Ohio Bobcats and averaged 22.7 points and 11.3 rebounds for his career. He was named Mid-American Conference player of the year in each of his three seasons and played nine years in the NBA. Gary Jr. was a member of the 2016 FIBA U-17 World Championship team and credits his father with shaping his development. “Every move, every jumpshot I do out there is for him,” Gary Jr. told the Raleigh News & Observer.

Elite Eight Pick: Duke

Duke’s size and talent have been too much for each of its three opponents in this tournament. This one will be dramatically more difficult; Kansas is an excellent team. KU’s chance to hang in this game hinges on the ability of All-American guard Devonte’ Graham, an excellent defender, to separate Devils freshman Trevon Duval from his teammates and force Duke to initiate its offense through Grayson Allen. The Devils are not as good then, because Allen is better when he can focus on scoring. And frustrating them is important because it can make their youth an issue. Only Allen ever has played in an Elite Eight game.

Duke, though, should punish the Mykhailiuk matchup on Bagley, and even if Bagley doesn’t score on first shots there is the problem of trying to keep both him and 6-10 Wendell Carter away from the offensive boards.