Coming off a win over South Dakota, Marquette will travel to Kansas City to take on the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils on Monday in a CBE Classic Semi-final matchup.
With 11 Final Four appearances and four NCAA championships, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski's resume speaks for itself. His 871 wins in Division-I college basketball are most among active coaches, and places him fourth on the all-time list. By season's end, he will likely trail only Bob Knight's 902 wins.
The Blue Devils head to Kansas City carrying a 3-0 record, with wins over Princeton, Miami (OH) and Colgate. They are averaging 95.3 points-per-game and a margin of victory of 41 points. They are holding opponents to just 54.3 points-per-game.
The two captains, seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, lead the team on both ends of the floor. Smith is averaging 16 points and seven plus assists per contest, and plays lockdown defense against opposing point guards. Singler adds 14 points and 7 rebounds per game. And at 6'8", Singler's keen ability to shoot from the perimeter could cause serious matchup problems for an undersized Golden Eagle squad.
Guard Kyrie Irving is making his presence felt in his first season in Durham, averaging 14.3 points, 4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game. The Blue Devils have another solid guard in Seth Curry, a dangerous perimeter shooter who transferred from Liberty University where he led all freshman in the country in scoring.
Duke's deep frontcourt has considerable height, and could give Marquette serious trouble. The Plumlee brothers, junior Miles and sophomore Mason, are both 6-feet-10 and have combined for over 12 points and 11 rebounds per game this season. Also, 6-foot-10 sophomore Ryan Kelly has averaged almost seven points and four rebounds so far this season.
Duke's roster contains six players 6-feet-8 or taller, compared to only two for Marquette. Junior Chris Otule stands at 6-foot-11, and is coming off a career performance, netting 15 points and pulling down 8 rebounds against South Dakota. However, six-foot-eight Davante Gardner's status remains in question after he left the South Dakota game early in the first half with a shoulder injury.
"They're probably better than us at every position, definitely bigger than us down low," Jimmy Butler said. "But I think if we go out there and execute…I don't see why we couldn't come out on top."
Tipoff is set for 6:30 PM from the Sprint Center in Kansas City as part of the Championship Round of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic.
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