The No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats (1-0) are traveling to Atlanta to meet up with the No. 8 Duke Blue Devils (1-0) in one of the most intriguing early season matchups in college basketball.
While the outcome of this one may just be one win or loss in a long season, it’s going to provide a huge momentum boost for the victor going forward. Both sides sorely need to validate themselves, and emerging with a W on Tuesday night is the perfect way to accomplish this goal.
Let’s take a look at where you can watch this contest, a few players to keep an eye on, a prediction on the final score and much more.
When: Tuesday, November 12 at 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
Live Stream: ESPN3
Duke (via AJC.com)
F Marshall Plumlee, OUT, Foot
G Seth Curry, PRB, Leg
Kentucky (via CoachCal.com)
G Julius Mays, PRB, Leg
G Ryan Harrow, PRB, Illness
Kentucky Player to Watch: Nerlens Noel
Coach John Calipari has done it again, bringing in the top freshman recruit in the class—another supremely athletic shot-blocking forward to patrol the paint and help fill in for the 2012 No. 1 overall draft pick, Anthony Davis.
Noel, a 6’10” stud from Everett, Mass., doesn’t figure to be an important part of UK’s offense, but he should be a defensive machine. To open the season, the flat-topped star scored just four points but hauled in nine rebounds, blocked three shots and recorded two steals against the Maryland Terrapins.
Expect Noel to continue to improve as the season goes along, gaining some more offensive consistency and only becoming more of a beast on the defensive side of the floor.
Duke Player to Watch: Mason Plumlee
Duke is hoping that its formula of relying on experienced, technically sound players—a direct contrast to Kentucky’s approach—will help them beat a team full of “one-and-done” freshmen and little-used sophomores.
Plumlee is arguably the most skilled, and important, of the three seniors in the starting lineup. The 6’10” forward helped crush Georgia State to open the season, piling on 19 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and swatting four shots.
He’s likely going to see a lot of Noel, which should make for an extremely exciting matchup. The result of that low post battle could very well decide the outcome of this game.
Prediction: Kentucky 70, Duke 66
We expect this one to be an extremely close matchup between two teams that are likely going to be at the top of the polls all season and favorites to win come March Madness.
However, the Wildcats are getting the edge, as coach John Calipari has assembled another supremely talented group that hasn’t even scratched the surface of their potential.
While Coach Mike Krzyzewski has a top-tier squad with veterans all over the place, they will be run off the floor in Atlanta in the waning minutes. Don’t be surprised to see a back-and-forth battle end with UK making hustle plays down the stretch to decide the contest.