Much will be made about this matchup between the Yale Bulldogs and the Duke Blue Devils. You have two brainy schools going head-to-head; with the Ivy League champion Bulldogs coming off of a huge upset of Baylor in the Round of 64. That victory marked Yale’s first NCAA Tournament win in the 315-year history of the school. This is where the similarities end between the two elite academic universities, however, as Duke is fresh off of its 106th Tournament win over UNC Wilmington.
There also is some familiarity as the two played each other back in November. Duke defeated Yale 80-61 at home in a game that saw the Blue Devils pull away in the second half. Matt Jones led the way for Duke with 17 points while Yale was paced by Justin Sears' 19. The Bulldogs held their own on the boards, as both teams tied with 37, but shot just 39.7 percent from the field and got to the free throw line half as much (12 attempts vs. 24 for Duke) .
No. 12 Yale Bulldogs (23-6) vs. No. 4 Duke Blue Devils (24-10)
When: 2:40 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center (Providence)
Line: Duke -6.5
Keys for Yale
Yale has proven it can beat a team with superior athletes like the Baylor Bears. The final score of 79-75 on Thursday was truly a bad representation of the game. Yale essentially dominated for most of the 40 minutes. The Bulldogs have now experienced the excitement of the Big Dance and will be ready for the Blue Devils. In order for Yale to advance to its first-ever Sweet 16, the Bulldogs must stay out of foul trouble. Duke shot 43 free throws on Thursday. It is nearly impossible to beat the Blue Devils if they have that many attempts from the charity stripe. Lastly, sophomore guard Makai Mason will have to have the game of his life, again.
Keys for Duke
Duke must continue to score as many points as possible and beat teams with sheer firepower. This approach is often risky, but it does play to this team’s strengths, which has the prolific scorers capable of putting up big numbers every game. The Blue Devils may want to get a hand up in Mason’s face at some point though, otherwise he may get scorching hot and take over the basketball game for the second straight contest. Grayson Allen will need to continue to be aggressive with the ball and not settle for jump shots. He contributed 15 points from the free throw line alone in the win over UNC Wilmington.
Duke’s defense is really bad, so if the team has a cold shooting night these Blue Devils have a chance to be exposed against any competition. Yale needs to chase Duke off of the 3-point arc and make this a game of two-point baskets. If the Bulldogs can score consistently they will be in this game down to the final whistle.
Prediction: Duke 88, Yale 84
(Makai Mason photo by Don Clark, Yale Sports Publicity, courtesy of www.yalebulldogs.com)