Baylor and Duke kick off a loaded Wednesday night slate from the mecca of college basketball, Madison Square Garden. Baylor looks to rebound from an embarrassing loss against Michigan State while Duke looks to continue to build momentum after a slow start to the season.
TV schedule: Wednesday, December 20th, 7:00pm ET, ESPN
Arena: Madison Square Garden
Duke was supposed to be a national title contender coming into the season as almost all of their key pieces from last year returned, but they have gotten off to somewhat of a rocky start and are clinging on to a top 25 ranking. They have won back to back games after dropping two straight, and they are looking to add a quality win against a top-10 team in Baylor. Baylor, who started the season undefeated, got demolished in East Lansing on Saturday 88-64. On paper, this is a pretty even matchup.
Baylor comes into this game looking to redeem themselves after a bad loss on Saturday, and a motivated Bears team is not one most teams want to play. Baylor has some solid wins against Auburn and Florida, but other than that they haven't played the toughest schedule, so it's tough to tell how good this team really is. Their backcourt is one of the deepest in the nation, as they have four guards scoring at least 10 points a game, most notably freshman Ja'Kobe Walter and transfer RayJ Dennis. If they want to beat the Blue Devils, their guards will need a big performance.
Duke is looking to add a key win before heading into ACC play, but it will be a difficult task as they may be short-handed for this one. Tyrese Proctor went down in the loss to Georgia Tech and hasn't played since, but he is questionable for this matchup as of writing this. If Proctor can go, I think Duke has the upper hand in this one, assuming he's somewhat near full strength. The Blue Devils have the experience, size, and depth to bother the Bears. Kyle Filiposwki should make his mark in this one as Baylor doesn't really have anyone that will be able to slow him down, so look for Duke to get him going early and often.
The outcome of this game somewhat depends on the health of Tyrese Proctor, as Duke will have a steep hill to climb if he is unable to go. If he can play, Duke should be able to handle this untested Baylor team rather easily. I think it will be close for the majority of the game as Baylor will come out with something to prove and their super star guards can carry them for the most part, but Duke will eventually flex their muscles and use their experience to pull away late.
Prediction: Duke: 68, Baylor: 60