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Next Up - Portland State

Time: 4:30 EST || Venue: Memorial Coliseum: || Video: ESPN

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NCAA Basketball: Furman at Duke
Nov 20, 2017; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Marvin Bagley III (35) shoots a free throw during the second half against the Furman Paladins at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke won 92-63. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

PK80 play actually started with Furman and an on-campus game but the real tournament starts on Thursday and Duke opens with Portland State.

The Vikings are 4-0 with wins over Portland, Willamette, UC Riverside and Utah State.

We usually start by looking at record, roster size and stats and when we looked at the roster, not only do the Vikings have some size but we recognized a name.

Remember when Duke last played Gonzaga? They had a really big backup center from Montana. Guy was 7-1 and 290. Baby faced too.

Well, now Ryan Edwards is a grad student transfer.

Portland State also has a 6-10 kid from Tucson, sophomore Brendan Rumel. Rumel gets the fewest minutes on the roster so don’t expect to see him much.

Twelve players are upperclassmen and all but three started college somewhere else.

The most productive players are Bryce Canda, (6-4 senior), Holland Woods (6-0 freshman), Deontae North (6-4 senior), Michael Mayhew (6-2 junior), Deante Strickland (5-10 junior) and Edwards.

Whatever else comes of this game it’s a matchup of two of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country and the Vikings are actually marginally better than Duke in that department.

It’s fair to say that they haven’t done it yet against a frontcourt like Duke’s. Between Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter, Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier, and, well, that’s a load, isn’t it?

As we said before, Edwards is a big kid and not that mobile. Even moving down from Gonzaga to Portland State, he’s playing less than a half.

So we expect Duke will probably dominate inside.

And it’s going to be hard for the guards to keep up with Grayson Allen and Trevon Duval.

It’ll be hard for Portland State in general. Obviously as the #1 team in the country, Duke is the heavy favorite.

Hard but never impossible. Wednesday night we saw NC State knock off #2 Arizona and the name Chaminade still has power, much like the name of Indiana’s Hickory High of Hoosier fame.

Fact is, upsets are always possible. There are two sides to the equation though: first the underdog has to be prepared. And second, typically, the stronger team has to be let it happen.

Consider the Michigan-Appalachian State football game, possibly the greatest upset of all time in college football.

Turns out Michigan’s kids didn’t take App State seriously. In 1991, UNLV didn’t take Duke seriously, and after beating them by 33 in the title game the year before, it was maybe understandable.

Before the game, Stacy Augmon said the undefeated Rebels would make quick work of Duke, a few steals, a few dunks and Duke would give up.

Didn’t turn out that way of course. Duke was fully prepared and pulled off a legendary upset.

We’re not saying that that’s going to happen, just that it could. Duke learned a valuable lesson against Southern the other night and the players vowed not to take anyone else lightly.

If they stick to that, Portland State will lose.

If they leave the door open? Who knows.

Assuming Duke wins, the Blue Devils face an interesting matchup with either Texas, featuring Mohamed Bamba, or our old friends at Butler.

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