The two championship games at the first ever Phil Knight Invitational will feature the four highest ranked teams invited to Portland for the weekend. Michigan State will play North Carolina in the late game after Florida takes on Duke.
We’ll play the first game between two teams that can score a lot of points and both needed overtime to get to the championship game. The undefeated and #1 Duke Blue Devils defeated Texas on Friday night, 85–78, without Grayson Allen late in regulation and in overtime. Their senior leader fouled out after playing just 25 minutes and scoring 12 points. Florida needed 10 extra minutes to beat Gonzaga in one of the best games of the young college basketball season. The trio of Chris Chiozza, Jalen Hudson and KeVaughn Allen scored 84 of the Gators’ 111 points.
It was the fourth time in five games this season that Florida has gone over 100 and after its win on Friday night, Dan Dakich proclaimed that both teams would be in the 100s in the championship game too. It’s only natural for a lot of bettors to feel the same way and that’s one of the best reasons you can ever have for betting the other side.
Duke didn’t get much out of Allen in the semifinal game against Texas but Marvin Bagley III played the finest game of his Duke career thus far. He scored 34 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, both way higher totals than anybody else on the floor had for either team.
The Gators don’t have anybody as big as Bagley or Wendell Carter Jr. and after the way Gonzaga’s Johnathan Williams torched Florida’s interior on Friday, Duke would be prudent to slow the tempo and feed the post often. Florida will have to bring double teams that will open up space for slashing guards.
In fact, the Blue Devils will have a size advantage at every position in this game. Florida starts four guards, none of whom are as tall as Duke’s. While Duke’s guards are long and skinny, Florida’s are shorter and stronger. The Blue Devils play freshman on the perimeter, Florida plays juniors and seniors. The only real similarity is the talent level. The guards on both sides are tremendous.
What I will say about Florida’s guards are that they are completely free of fear when it comes to shot selection, Hudson and Allen especially. Those two are gunners but and they can get hot fast in transition. Florida has the best chance to win the pace is frantic, even borderline chaotic. For a long time on Friday, Florida wasn’t headed for anywhere near 111 points. The Gators had 29 in the first half of a slower, half court game and didn’t start scoring in bunches until fatigue set in on both sides and the game opened up. The Gators aren’t the same explosive offense in the halfcourt and Duke’s offense should thrive in a slower game. I expect the Blue Devils to do everything they can to slow the game down and eventually win a game in the 70s.
Free Pick: Under 163