DUKE BLUE DEVILS (5-0)
vs. LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (5-0)
Battle 4 Atlantis Championship Game – Nassau, Bahamas
Tip-off: Saturday, 9:30 p.m. ET
Line: Louisville -2, Total: 136.5
The last time Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino coached against each other, Duke beat Kentucky in the Elite Eight on what is now known as “The Shot” by Christian Laettner. Now the two teams will square off as top-five squads in the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship on Saturday night.
The No. 2 Cardinals enter this game coming off a resounding 18-point victory against No. 13 Missouri, while the fifth-ranked Blue Devils grinded out a win against Shaka Smart’s VCU Rams, who upset No. 19 Memphis in the first round. Whereas the Blue Devils had to contend with a team that lacked a true post presence in VCU, this game could be focused on the battle in the paint between Duke 6-foot-10 PF Mason Plumlee (20.4 PPG, 10.8 RPG) and Louisville 6-foot-11 C Gorgui Dieng (8.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG).
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Duke’s offense is led by seniors, with Plumlee, Seth Curry (17.6 PPG) and Ryan Kelly (11.4 PPG). The trio thrived against the team’s other best opponent of the season, Kentucky, with Curry and Plumlee combining for 41 points on 14-of-22 shooting. But the offense is run by sophomore PG Quinn Cook, who has come into his own this season, recording nine assists in two of the team’s past three games. The team has also received steady production from freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon (11.6 PPG), who is a threat from downtown, making 11-of-24 threes (46%). That's actually much better than his shooting inside the arc, as Sulaimon is just 7-of-26 on two-point FG tries (27%).
The key matchup for Louisville might be point guard and true floor general Peyton Siva (8.6 PPG, 6.8 APG) guarding Cook, as the crafty senior has 2.2 SPG and will look to record his third double-digit assist performance of the season. He has plenty of options to look to, notably Russ Smith (19.6 PPG, 41% 3-pt FG) who joins him on the perimeter as an elite shooter and defender—he has racked up 10 steals over two games so far in the Bahamas. Throw in Dieng in the post alongside sophomore forward Chane Behanan, who is coming off a season-high 13 points, and this is a team that can score both inside and out. Swingman Wayne Blackshear (10.0 PPG) rounds out the Cardinals starters at 6-foot-5, and he could have a size advantage with a Duke backcourt whose tallest player is Sulaimon at a skinny 6-foot-4.