Duke vs. Kentucky Preview & Prediction

The Kentucky Wildcats and Duke Blue Devils are set to square in the first game of the Champion's Classic in Chicago tonight, marking the first matchup of top five teams this season. Which side will prove that they're legitimate national title contenders? Check out our preview & prediction below:

Projected Starting Lineups:

#2 Kentucky Wildcats

G Tyler Ulis, So. - 8.5 ppg, 3.5 apg, 4.5 rpg
G Jamal Murray, Fr. - 13.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.0 apg
F Derek Willis, Jr. - 12.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg
F Marcus Lee , So. - 11.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg
F Skal Labissiere, Fr. - 17.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg

#5 Duke Blue Devils

G Grayson Allen, So. - 27.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, 4.0 rpg
G Matt Jones, Sr. - 14.5 ppg, 2.0 apg
G Brandon Ingram, Fr. - 18.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
F Amile Jefferson, Sr. - 15.0 ppg, 11.5 rpg
C Marshall Plumlee, Sr. - 6.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.5 bpg

Key To The Game:

Who can own the post? Both teams have stable and reliable athletes in the backcourt, but the frontcourt will be what decides this game. Kentucky's offense runs through stud freshman big man Skal Labissiere, and while he's supremely talented, is still a little raw offensively and can be pushed around due to his slender frame. Duke's Marshall Plumlee will try to use his superior strength to render him ineffective, while Labissiere will try to use his athleticism to cancel that out. Whoever gets the better of that matchup will win the game.

What They're Saying About The Kentucky Wildcats:

Kentucky Wildcats vs. Duke Blue Devils: The X Factor

Kentucky Basketball Lands 2016 Commitment From Five-Star Recruit

What They're Saying About The Duke Blue Devils:

Duke Basketball: 5 Keys to Beating Kentucky

Duke Guard Grayson Allen Earns First ACC Player of the Week

Prediction: Duke wins 86-81

I fully expect this game to go back and forth throughout with neither side able to really gain a firm hold on the game. The wealth of talent on both sides of the floor will be evident, but it'll be Duke's experience (three seniors in their starting lineup) that will allow them make enough plays down the stretch on a big stage to pull out the win.

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Related Topics: Matt Jones, Derek Willis, Jamal Murray, Kentucky Wildcats Basketball, Tyler Ulis, College Basketball, NCAA Basketball, Grayson Allen, Duke Blue Devils Basketball, Brandon Ingram, Marshall Plumlee, Amile Jefferson, Marcus Lee