Duke vs Kansas

Duke vs. Kansas 2018 live stream: Time, TV schedule, and how to watch Champions Classic online

The top-ranked Blue Devils face their first test of the 2017-18 season against Bill Self’s talented Kansas Jayhawks.

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 ESPN college hoops tip-off marathon will wind to an end Tuesday night with the event’s showcase game, No. 1 Duke taking on No. 7 Kansas inside Madison Square Garden. The game will be the second half of the annual Champions Classic doubleheader, which will be kicked off by Kentucky and Michigan State at 7 p.m.

Kansas will come into the game a bit humbled after being handed a 103-99 overtime loss by No. 6 Indiana last Friday at the Armed Forces Classic in Honolulu. The Jayhawks got a career-high 30 points from senior guard Frank Mason III in the game, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Hoosiers.

Duke, the overwhelming top-ranked team in the country according to both polls, enters Tuesday night’s tilt unbeaten at 2-0, but also untested. The Blue Devils opened the season with blowouts of Marist (94-49) and Grand Canyon (96-61) that were both well-in-hand before halftime. Preseason ACC Player of the Year Grayson Allen leads the team in scoring at 20.5 ppg, while freshman guard Frank Jackson is right behind him at 19.5 ppg.

How to watch Duke vs. Kansas

Time: (Approximately) 9:30 p.m. ET

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City

TV: ESPN

Stream: Watch ESPN

1) Duke is still far from full strength

Though Duke has rolled through its first two opponents and is the near-unanimous No. 1 team in the country, the Blue Devils are still playing without three blue chip freshmen who could easily be in the starting lineup if healthy.

Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, two of the three highest-rated players in the class of 2016, are still sidelined with knee and foot injuries, respectively. Fellow freshman big man Marques Bolden is also out with a lower leg injury. None of the rookies are expected to be in uniform Tuesday night.

“Whatever amount of time, whatever it is, let’s just get well,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said when asked Monday what he’s told the injured players. “And while you guys are getting well and supporting the team, let’s become a team with these nine healthy guys. We made that a priority this past week.”

2) Kansas has its own hyped freshman star

The third player to top the 2016 recruiting rankings was Kansas freshman Josh Jackson, who was expected to be a star from Day 1 for the Jayhawks. That didn’t exactly go to plan on opening night, with Jackson struggling to score nine points on 3-of-11 shooting in the loss to Indiana.

Even without the familiar faces on the court for Duke, Jackson will be motivated to put on a show inside the world’s most famous arena Tuesday night. The versatile 6’8 guard will have to be much better than he was against IU for Kansas to have any shot at springing the upset.

3) Grayson Allen can lay the foundation for his Player of the Year campaign

Grayson Allen might be the most disliked player in all of college basketball, but part of that is because he also might be the best. The versatile 6’5 guard is the only one of the 15 players who picked up AP All-American honors after last season who is back for another year of college ball, and as a result, many people have him tabbed as the early season favorite for the Naismith and Wooden Awards.

Lighting up Kansas in one of the season’s first real spotlight games would be a giant first step towards achieving that goal.

4) Can Duke make an early defensive statement?

Statistically, the 2017-18 Duke Blue Devils were the worst defensive team of the Coach K era. They also struggled defensively for a large chunk of the season before that, until suddenly buckling down in March and ultimately winning a national title.

Krzyzewski hopes it won’t take that long for a similar realization to happen with this group. The return of the three freshmen bigs — Giles in particular — will help immensely, but until then, being able to do enough on the defensive end to take down a Kansas team loaded with offensive weapons at every spot on the floor would be huge early season statement.

5) Can Kansas rebound well enough to win this game?

In its loss to Indiana, Kansas was outrebounded, 50-39, and allowed the Hoosiers to extend 18 possessions with offensive rebounds. Although Duke doesn’t figure to be as formidable in the frontcourt on Tuesday night as they hope to be in March, limiting the Blue Devils’ second chance opportunities still has to be a priority for Kansas.

If there is a long-term concern with this Kansas team, it’s the Jayhawks’ ability to hold their own defensively in the paint and on the glass. KU lacks a true center, and will need more than the 11 total rebounds it got in the Indiana game from forwards Landen Lucas and Carlton Bragg if it wants to beat another quality opponent.

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