Duke vs Kentucky: Champions Classic 2018 Start Time and Live StreamDuke’s hyped freshman class takes to the hardwood for the first time Tuesday night against another program known for cultivating one-and-done talent.
The fourth-ranked Blue Devils take on No. 2 Kentucky in the second game of the Champions Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Duke’s star-studded roster led by R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson faces a Kentucky team highlighted by a mix of experienced stars and impressive freshmen.
Tuesday’s contest will give us an early peek into how both teams will come together during the 2018-19 season, but by no means will it be a representation of the finished product on both ends.
Date: Tuesday, November 6
Start Time: 9:30 p.m.
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Duke’s Freshmen Looking To Make Early Statement
The majority of the buzz building up to the college basketball season circled around Barrett, Williamson and Cam Reddish.
DURHAM, NC – OCTOBER 27: RJ Barrett #5 of the Duke Blue Devils drives against the Ferris State Bulldogs at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Lance King/Getty Images
The first-year trio enters the collegiate level with championship-or-bust expectations, and if the Blue Devils reach their full potential, they could go down as one of the best teams in the history of the sport.
But before we throw all sorts of superlatives at Mike Krzyzewski’s bunch, the Blue Devils need to show us what they’re capable of on the court.
Barrett and Williamson are the most recognizable names of the threesome, as Barrett was the top recruit in the high school class of 2018 and Williamson’s been a YouTube sensation for years.
However, the most important part of Duke’s roster could be Reddish, who could be drafted in the top five of the 2019 NBA draft, but he’s been overlooked entering the season.
As ESPN.com’s Paul Biancardi noted, Reddish has the most potential of the players in the freshman class:
Paul Biancardi @PaulBiancardi
Wait until Cam Reddish puts it all together! Extremely gifted, with the size of an NBA sf (7’1” wingspan) that owns a controlled handle in the open floor & passing vision. A capable shooter & a creative scorer who facilitates. Highest potential in the class!
As for how Krzyzewski is going to fit his talented freshmen on the court, Barrett and Reddish can both take care of the ball-handling duties while setting up on the perimeter to knock down three-point shots, while Williamson can bring the ball up the floor in addition to using his athleticism to create mismatches in the paint.
Since Barrett, Reddish and Williamson are so versatile, Krzyzewski should use them off the ball, with Tre Jones, the younger brother of Tyus Jones, starting at point guard.
While the freshmen will be expected to do the majority of the heavy lifting on both ends of the court, Duke is going to have to rely on its depth in some stretches.
Keep an eye on juniors Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier and sophomore Alex O’Connell as X-factors off the bench throughout the season.
But if we’re being honest with ourselves, all we care about Tuesday is evaluating the stars on the Duke roster and how they’ll adjust to the next level.
Kentucky Hoping To Bank On Mix Of Experience and Youth
The 2018-19 Kentucky Wildcats are molded a bit different than the conventional one-and-done teams we’ve seen for most of John Calipari’s tenure.
For starters, the most important player on the Kentucky roster is Stanford transfer Reid Travis, who has four years of college basketball experience.
LEXINGTON, KY – OCTOBER 12: Reid Travis #22 and Nick Richards #4 of the Kentucky Wildcats look on during Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena on October 12, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
With Travis and sophomores Quade Green, P.J. Washington and Nick Richards in the fold, the Wildcats won’t go through growing pains with a young roster like they have in the past.
The quartet of experienced players will be able to help along the talented freshman class led by Keldon Johnson, Ashton Hagans and Tyler Ferro.
With an embarrassment of riches at each position, the Wildcats should be able to deal with the majority of challenges they face, including the athleticism of the Duke freshmen.
Given how much balance Kentucky has, it wouldn’t be surprising to see four or five players average double-digit points per game.
On Tuesday, the X-factors for the Wildcats will be their big men, as they attempt to prevent Duke’s thunderous excursions into the paint, led by Williamson.
Washington, Montgomery and Travis will be tasked with protecting the rim, and if they can limit the second-chance opportunities of the Blue Devils and create some of their own on the offensive glass, the Wildcats will be in good shape.
Offensively, Johnson will be the key for the Wildcats, as he’ll flash his freakish athleticism to get around Duke’s defenders and spark a few momentum shifts.
If the Wildcats flex their depth in the right way, they’ll be able to shift some of the hype from the Blue Devils to themselves as nonconference play begins.