Duke Kansas

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Elite 8 Pick


This is the matchup everyone expected to see and it’s the only region that went chalk. Duke, with the more talented team, will be the favorite against the top-seeded Kansas. The Blue Devils were down to -2.5 point favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Omaha.

The crowd turnout will be interesting for this Game considering it’s only a three-hOur drive from the Kansas campus. But on the other end is one of the most bandwagon schools in the country in Duke. The Blue Devils had no trouble in their first two Games and while they only beat Syracuse by Four points, that Game never felt in doubt.

The same can be said for Kansas even though it hasn’t covered its last two Games. against both Seton Hall and Clemson, the Jayhawks kind of let up and that led to some late threes, which led to non-covering performances. To win this one, they’ll have to cover against Duke.

There’s a clear problem in this matchup for Kansas in that Duke has the best offensive rebounding team in the nation. The Jayhawks ranked last in the Big 12 and are 295th in the country in defensive rebounding. Duke is already an efficient offensive team and when you throw in a bunch of offensive boards it could mean trouble for Kansas. On the other end, the Jayhawks have struggled numerous times against zone defenses this season so that may be another issue. Of course, if KU’s shot is falling, that may not mean anything.

Going back to the Schedule, Kansas had no trouble with Syracuse earlier in the season winning 76-60, but then fell to Washington 74-65 after that. Both teams play a familiar 2-3 zone defense, which Duke uses. That inconsistency is good enough reason not to take the Jayhawks. The one player that has to pick up his Game is Devonte’ Graham as he’s struggled in the last two, going just 2-of-9 from deep. While he’s setting up teammates, he needs to go into attack mode against the zone, driving and dishing, similar to what Duke did against Syracuse.

The same goes for everyone else on Kansas because none of the players will be left open. Svi Mykhailiuk is the biggest threat of them all, while Malik Newman has been on fire for a couple weeks. The smaller LAgerald Vick may have to play at the top of the zone because Mykhailiuk is a bigger threat on the perimeter. There’s no doubt the Jayhawks have the shooters and talent to Scoreon the zone, it just hasn’t worked perfectly. There’s also the Udoka Azubuike factor down low, who has turned into a consistent offensive force.

The other end will be a bit more difficult for a Kansas team that hasn’t played great defense all season. The Jayhawks don’t have the bodies to deal with Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter down low. If they play man, Mykhailiuk will probably have to mark Carter, which isn’t a good thing. Azubuike has returned from injury, but when he’s off the cOurt, it’s hard to see Mitch Lightfoot and Silvio De Sousa dealing with Duke’s bigs. Then there’s still the problem of Grayson Allen, Gary Trent and Trevon Duval. Kansas matches up well in the backcOurt, but gives up size at all three positions, which doesn’t help.

It’s a pretty easy strategy for Kansas. To win this Game, it has to make shots against the zone. Otherwise, the duo of Carter and Bagley will be close to impossible to stop on the other end, which means this one should have plenty of points, the opposite of Duke’s win over Syracuse.

Our Pick – Kansas +3

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