Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker meet in key freshman matchup
A star freshman. A sophomore expected to take the next step. A transfer at forward expected to play a major role. And all of it expected to come together for a national championship run.
Duke and Kansas aren’t exactly mirror images, except in the shorthand. Duke has freshman Jabari Parker, sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood. Kansas has freshman Andrew Wiggins, sophomore Perry Ellis and Memphis transfer Tarik Black.
Either way, both teams have several new pieces expected to come together for a major statement in the first week of the season. Perhaps it’s too easy to paint the game as a Wiggins vs. Parker matchup, but it’s not out of line to consider that this might not be the last time these teams meet.
Duke vs. Kansas
Time: 10 p.m.
Site: United Center (Chicago)
Top Matchup: Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins vs. Duke’s Jabari Parker
The pair might not be matched up against each other on a play-by-play basis, but the popular narrative will be how the star freshman small forwards fare in this game. Wiggins, who arrived at Kansas as a standout defender, will have his hands full against both Parker and Hood, who are both versatile offensive threats.
Key Stat: 61.9
Duke and Kansas shot a combined 61.9 percent from the field in their openers. Duke went 38 of 54 against Davidson while Kansas went 23 o 43 against ULM. Expect the defenses to tighten up in this matchup, but that’s still an impressive start.
Duke’s Key Storyline: Rebounding
Duke may miss Mason Plumlee a ton this season. Kansas brings Black and freshman Joel Embiid who bring muscle to the frontcourt, so players like Marshall Plumlee, Amile Jefferson, Parker and Hood will need to work the glass against Kansas.
Kansas’ Key Storyline: Naadir Tharpe’s improvement
Kansas’ Tharpe was a backup last season at point guard, a position that was a liability last season. Kansas’ national championship bona fides may be in question if Tharpe isn’t a solid point guard. He’ll be matched up with a solid veteran in Duke’s Quinn Cook.