ScarecrowGrin’s Elite Eight Game Previews: 1 Duke Blue Devils Vs 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs
In the sweet 16, Duke squeezed by a tough Utah team 63-57 while Gonzaga handled UCLA 74-62. All season long, Duke has been carried by ACC player of the year Jahlil Okafor. However, in their win over Utah, he was double teamed on almost every touch and tied his season low of 6 points. Things won’t get easier for the Duke center as Gonzaga big men, 7’1 Przemek Karnowsi and 6’10 Donantas Sabonis, present size and skill that Okafor isn’t accustomed to seeing. Duke was able to hold off Utah with strong guard play, getting 15 points from freshman Tyus Jones and late free throws from senior Quinn Cook. Additionally, Blue Devils freshman Justise Winslow helped propel Duke to victory with 21 points and 10 rebounds. These players will have to step up again to assist Okafor down low, who should again see double teams in addition to Gonzaga’s size.
Gonzaga’s bigs, along with outside shooting from Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer will be tough for Duke to overcome. Gonzaga also holds an experience advantage. Duke starts three freshmen, while Gonzaga has a roster full of upperclassmen. Wiltjer actually won an NCAA championship as a freshman with Kentucky in 2012. In the end Gonzaga’s size and experience will prevail.
Final score, Gonzaga 68 Duke 59.