Gonzaga and Duke Basketball may not have a ton of history between them to have a “rivalry” of sorts, their previous matchups have been high-profiled and exciting to watch. In 2015, the Blue Devils defeated the Bulldogs in the Elite 8 to advance to the Final Four, where they went on to win the national championship, the 5th in the career for head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is entering the final year of his career.
At the time, that loss prevented Gonzaga from getting to the Final Four for the first time in program history, but they were able to get past the barrier a couple of times since then. And they also were bale to exact some revenge over the ACC program a few years later, beating then- No. 1 Duke in the Maui Invitational finals with Zion Williamson on board.
This time around, Gonzaga is the No. 1 team in the country and the national team to beat. They’ve been nothing but impressive so far, with double-digit wins over a pair of top-5 teams in Texas and UCLA. They have arguably the best overall player in Drew Timme (18.7 ppg and 6.0 rpg), best freshman in Chet Holmgren (13.2 ppg and 6.7 rpg), and best pure point guard in Andrew Nembhard (9.8 apg and 5.0 apg).
It’s a rare situation (excusing last season) for Duke Basketball to be a genuine underdog (around -5.5 point underdogs) but that’s what they will be in Las Vegas for this neutral-site game. But don’t think they don’t have a shot, with a hall of fame head coach leading the way and potentially the future No. 1 overall NBA Draft on the roster as well.
Here are some keys to keep in mind for Duke’s big game Friday night.