Breakdown: Arizona vs. Duke

Arizona will battle Duke for the Championship of the NIT on Friday. Read on for a complete breakdown of the game, including a prediction of the final score.



Arizona vs. Duke
Nov. 29 at 4:00 pm
TV: ESPNU
Madison Square Garden

ARIZONA

DUKE
Point Guard

ADVANTAGE: Duke
PG: T.J. McConnell (6-1, 195, Jr.) vs. Quinn Cook (6-2, 180, Jr.)

I'm not a big fan of Cook, but he is off to a solid start this season and deserves credit. He is shooting at 46 percent so far, which would be the best percentage in his career by five percent. In addition, Cook is averaging over six assists per game. We're going to give him the slight advantage here because he is scoring more, but it would not be a surprise to see this matchup become a wash. In fact, it is probably the most likely outcome.

Shooting Guard

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
SG: Nick Johnson (6-3, 200, Jr.) vs. Tyler Thornton (6-2, 190, Sr.)

Thornton is the type of player that does a little bit of everything, but he is not a big scorer. Johnson should be able to fully contain his offensive game and our guess is that Thornton is going to have some difficulty guarding Johnson if he is aggressive. Johnson has been one of Arizona's best players, if not the best, and he should be able to get Thronton into foul trouble if two of his last three games are any indication.

Small Forward

ADVANTAGE: Duke
SF: Aaron Gordon (6-9, 225, Fr.) vs. Jabari Parker (6-8, 235, Fr.)

This is Sean Miller's first defensive decision. He can choose to see what Ashley can do with Parker, but we think it makes sense to put Gordon on him. Actually, the most sense is to put Rondae on him and move some things around, but we don't think that is how the game starts. Gordon is putting up great rebound numbers, but his scoring has been somewhat harder to come by than Parker. Parker is the best freshman in the country and he will get a slight advantage because of it.

Power Forward

ADVANTAGE: Duke
PF: Brandon Ashley (6-8, 230, So.) vs. Rodney Hood (6-8,215, So.)

Ashley did not show up in the Drexel game and it almost cost Arizona the game. Obviously the blame would not have been on just him, but he needs to show up in the big game. Hood is a complete stud and one of the best players Ashley will face all season. Alabama did a nice job with Hood, as it was physical with him in every aspect and forced him to foul out in 20 minutes. Ashley needs to be able to do the same in order to have success.

Center

ADVANTAGE: Arizona
C: Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0, 235, So.) vs. Josh Hairston (6-8, 235, Sr.)

This is going to be another decision for both coaches. Duke could choose to go small to try to take Tarczewski out of the game and if that happens, Miller will have to decide if he wants to match the Blue Devils. If Hairston is not in the game, does Tarczewski come out and if not, who does he guard? Really, there are a ton of questions here. However, what we do know, is that Tarczewski is better than Hairston.

Bench

ADVANTAGE: Duke
Bench: Duke is struggling with its bench rotation because there is not a lot of consistency there, although there is talent. Matt Jones is a good shooting guard and could be on his way to surpassing Rasheed Sulaimon. Amile Jefferson is solid on the glass, but struggles to score. We're going to give this to Duke because York has to prove he can play well against a good team. However, we do feel Rondae is the best player coming off the bench in this game.
Coaching

ADVANTAGE: Duke
Coaching: Sean Miller vs. Mike Krzyzewski

We doubt this game is going to come down to coaching, but Coach K's resume is basically unmatched in college basketball right now. Miller's goal is to reach the level of success K has and it is going to take some years to get there.

Outcome

ADVANTAGE: Duke
81 85
Prediction: If Arizona starts like it did against Drexel I would be really surprised, but it is also going to lose this game by 30. Duke's defense has not been great and the size is going to be an issue because Hood and Parker don't rebound as much as they probably can and should. Still, it is hard to pick against Duke in an environment like Madison Square Garden and while we think it will be a close game, Ashley's performance against Drexel and in other big stages has us a bit worried.


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