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Any college basketball fan left disappointed by Gonzaga’s wire-to-wire manhandling of UCLA on Tuesday night had to in fact feel made entire by Friday’s memoir showdown between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 5 Duke in Las Vegas. The Blue Devils acquired by a get of 84-81 in a sport played on Nov. 26 that had the feel of a dreary March or early April grudge match.

The battle between future NBA lottery picks Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga and Paolo Banchero of Duke was amongst the must-eye concepts of the contest, with Banchero (21 concepts on 8-of-18 shooting, including 20 concepts within the first half of) leaving with the upper hand statistically as Holmgren (16 concepts on 8-of-13 shooting) also confirmed frequent flashes of his most likely No. 1 pick-vogue brilliance. The well-known newcomers had been no longer incessantly the supreme anecdote, as Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther (20 concepts, 10 rebounds) and Andrew Nembhard (6 concepts, 11 assists, 8 rebounds) and Duke’s Designate Williams (17 concepts, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks) and Wendell Moore Jr. (20 concepts, 6 assists, 4 steals) had been also prominent within the contest.

The loss was Gonzaga’s first within the popular season since Feb. 22, 2020, when the Bulldogs fell at BYU.

ESPN’s college basketball team of Myron Medcalf, Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway and Joe Lunardi weighed in on what they saw from the Zags, the Blue Devils, every groups’ stunning newcomers and which team is handiest positioned for a high seed on Substitute Sunday.


What was the most comely factor of Duke’s or Gonzaga’s performance on Friday night?

I judge the most comely factor of the sport was that every groups had been aggressive even with out their stars in important stretches. Holmgren disregarded the huge majority of the first half of after he picked up his 2d shocking shut to the 10-minute attach. But Strawther (20 concepts), the sophomore from Las Vegas, excelled in front of associates and family who had been within the constructing to explore him play. Rasir Bolton, the Iowa Divulge transfer, had 15 concepts.

For Duke, Banchero wrestled with what perceived to be cramping issues that pressured him to return to the locker room within the 2d half of and dash away out necessary time. When he returned, he didn’t scrutinize delight in the the same man after scoring 20 concepts within the first half of in one in every of the most dominant efforts I’ve viewed from a freshman. Peaceable, other players stepped up. Williams’ size was an effort for Gonzaga. Drew Timme‘s bucket with about 30 seconds to play was completely defended by the younger mountainous. Moore helped Duke handle an edge with Banchero unavailable. Jeremy Roach made some mountainous performs down the stretch. Bigger than something, I judge we realized that every groups rep about a key co-stars this season. Neither team crumbled via adversity. That is a merely signal.

— Medcalf


What did we uncover out about Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren on Friday night that we didn’t already know?

That cramping shall be an element for Banchero? I fabricate no longer truly judge he’s going to be a persistent cramper in his basketball occupation, nonetheless here’s the 2d mountainous sport for Duke thus a ways this season and or no longer it is miles the 2d sport Banchero has wanted to dash away for an prolonged length of time within the 2d half of. Thru Banchero’s sport, although, he had as spectacular a first half of as we’ll explore from any individual in college basketball this season. He was aggressive offensively, looked cheerful from the perimeter, led the spoil with the ball in his hands — he was out of the ordinary. Twenty concepts on 8-for-13 shooting with three 3-pointers within the first 20 minutes.

Perchance the supreme two areas of Banchero’s sport that rep raised search data from marks are consistency from 3-point fluctuate and whether he shall be a diminutive bit more decisive with his offensive moves. Within the first half of, he took 3s in rhythm and he had a couple safe-and-shoot attempts. And he also hurried as soon as receiving the ball. The isolation objects from the elbow and mid-put up areas are an efficient section of the repertoire, nonetheless he moved rather more decisively against Gonzaga within the outlet half of.

As for Holmgren, I’m no longer particular he confirmed (or didn’t shriek) something that we didn’t already know. He looked fluid with the ball in his hands, his 3-point free up was dazzling although he was 0-for-3 from within the wait on of the arc — and passed up a enormous-delivery corner 3 dreary within the sport — and he blocked pictures. He had some early shocking peril, nonetheless was more disciplined within the 2d half of and barely sat on the bench over the last 20 minutes. He confirmed some physicality and aggressiveness on the offensive glass and ending all the draw in which via the rim. I judge one factor to shriek was Williams truly impacted the sport within the first half of, and arguably overshadowed Holmgren. All and sundry knows the areas of enchancment with Holmgren, primarily his energy and physique, and that didn’t alternate on Friday night.

— Borzello


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Paolo Banchero steps into a 3-pointer and drains it.

Duke’s first month has incorporated spectacular victories over Kentucky and Gonzaga. Is there any reason this team can no longer snatch a nationwide title, and if so, what is it?

No reason the least bit. First, Duke confirmed or no longer it is higher than ultimate Banchero against Gonzaga. After a terrific 20-point first half of, cramps and per chance an adjustment or two by the Bulldogs minute the aptitude 2022 No. 1 pick to a single free throw the relaxation of the vogue. Yet the Blue Devils had been ready to prevail thanks to mountainous games at every ends of the floor from Moore (20 concepts, six assists and 4 steals) and Williams (17 concepts, five blocks and two steals).

2nd, this neighborhood is assorted than but another Duke groups of the contemporary past. Mike Krzyzewski’s groups were constantly ultimate-looking out on offense for a very very long time. That being said, what has tended to distinguish his nationwide title contenders from the “mere” Elite Eight groups in Durham has been defense.

Keeping Gonzaga to 81 concepts in a 79-possession sport and in particular harassing the Bulldogs into 17 turnovers most with out a doubt qualifies as ultimate-looking out defense. The Zags knew they had been in for a protracted night early as soon as they gave the ball away on their final bread-and-butter play, a Nembhard pick-and-roll with Timme setting the hide. Six Duke players recorded on the least one maintain against Gonzaga, and Williams is plainly one in every of the supreme rim defenders within the nation. That style of D plus the scoring and explosiveness of Banchero no doubt presents Coach K a shot at closing his occupation with his sixth nationwide title.

— Gasaway


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Chet Holmgren follows his have dash away out with a bucket, forcing Duke to maintain a timeout.

What weaknesses in Gonzaga’s sport did Duke shriek on Friday?

Duke’s first-half of performance incessantly is the blueprint to decelerate Gonzaga transferring forward — although no longer all and sundry has a Banchero or Williams up front. But there had been some being concerned signs. One, Duke beat Gonzaga within the transition sport within the first 20 minutes. The Blue Devils acquired wait on defensively, taking away the Zags getting easy baskets off of makes or misses, forcing them to play within the half of-court. And then going the opposite route, Duke had success beating Gonzaga downcourt and the Zags made some errors via getting wait on and getting place in a half of-court defense.

Nasty peril was but another main effort for Gonzaga, and that stemmed from Duke being aggressive going to the rim. Texas fully averted the paint within the first half of when it played Gonzaga, and UCLA had peril ending on the rim. That allowed Gonzaga’s perimeter defenders to be aggressive and disrupt opposition offense. But Duke has three physical drivers in Banchero, Trevor Keels and Moore, and so they went straight at Holmgren and Timme — and Williams was an professional dash-to put up presence for the Blue Devils. Timme deciding on up his fourth shocking on an ailing-immediate reach-in when Gonzaga was starting to rep momentum within the 2d half of changed the sport.

Two other issues Gonzaga had offensively: 3-point shooting and turnovers. The Bulldogs are no longer a colossal out of doors shooting team, nonetheless they’re such an extremely professional passing team that they’re silent ready to handle up defenses chasing shadows within the half of-court. But when issues slowed down and Gonzaga had to supply pictures, they didn’t descend. The Zags shot ultimate 6-for-21 from 3. Nembhard has been arguably the supreme point guard in college basketball thus a ways this season, nonetheless Duke was very aggressive in its ball-hide coverages against him, limiting the time he had to supply selections and derive teammates. Nembhard controls the tempo to boot to any individual within the nation, nonetheless Duke pressured him to scramble up his selections.

With all that said, I’m no longer overly entertaining about Gonzaga transferring forward. Duke is an professional nationwide title contender, the Bulldogs struggled to supply pictures and there had been main shocking peril issues. And it was silent a one-possession sport.

— Borzello


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Andrew Nembhard will get out in transition and makes the honest pass to Rasir Bolton for the layup.

Gonzaga was thought to be a firm total No. 1 seed per ESPN’s most up-to-date Bracketology projection, and Duke was a No. 1 seed to boot. What are the bracket implications of this consequence for every groups?

We saw a pair of No. 1 seeds in motion when Duke knocked off Gonzaga, and each would possibly per chance per chance well be on the tip line if Substitute Sunday was on the original time. The Blue Devils with out a doubt solidified their situation with the victory, and the Bulldogs — who entered the sport as a cheerful No. 1 total seed — don’t descend a ways ample to descend off the tip line.

The more revealing search data from is this: How most likely is every of these groups to be a No. 1 seed four months from now? And, even in defeat, the potentialities favor Gonzaga. The Bulldogs shall be liked in every last sport on their time desk. The same can no longer be said for Duke, with but another monster take a look at coming Tuesday at Ohio Divulge within the ACC/Extensive Ten Advise. It is the supreme merely road sport for either the Zags or Blue Devils in non-league play.

Formally, our tourney odds chart presents Gonzaga roughly three potentialities in four to be a high seed and Duke a diminutive better than a 50/50 probability. Unofficially, I truly rep a exhausting time identifying three better groups in all of college basketball — and it would possibly per chance per chance per chance well maintain on the least three to knock every the Blue Devils and Zags from the tip of the bracket.

— Lunardi

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