It's still way too early for this sort of thing, but over at USAToday, Scott Gleeson had some space to fill and decided to speculate on a Duke-Kentucky tournament matchup.
He points to a few reasons why Duke could win. We should point out first that the odds of any two particular teams meeting in the later rounds of the tournament are pretty low, even when the teams are overwhelmingly powerful.
- Jahil Okafor. The young big man has simply been brilliant. He's a handful for anyone.
- Better guard play. After watching Duke all season, we'd have to agree, with one caveat: Kentucky's guards are much, much bigger. However, that was true when UConn beat them too. Call it the Husky reason.
- Duke's had to play a much tougher schedule and has had significantly more challenges than has UK. Call it the UNLV reason.
We'll mention a couple of other potential factors and one potential problem.
Marshall Plumlee is not the same sort of athlete as Kentucky's group of big men - Karl Towns, Dakari Johnson, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles and Marcus Lee - but here's what he is: 7-0, 255 and rough in a way that most freshmen - and we'd include Okafor here - are not and cannot be. Not every grown man can be that powerful either.
He's not going to score 20 points or anything, but he'll get in there and bang people up.
The other thing that Duke has that Kentucky doesn't exactly have an answer for is Justise Winslow. He's much better than people realize, even people who watch consistently on TV. You can't teach what he has.
And the one problem, aside from the obvious issue of depth?
Free throw shooting.
Traditionally, this has been a problem for John Calipari's teams. This year, it may be more critical for Duke.
Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones are both excellent at 88.7% and 87.4% respectively. Grayson Allen hasn't shot many but is at 88.5%.
Matt Jones is at 75% and Plumlee is at 76%.
But Winslow is at 61.2%, Amile Jefferson at 56.3% and despite his many gifts, Okafor trails the rest of the rotation at 54.8%.
It's potentially a huge problem if Duke makes a big post-season run.