What we learned from Friday’s elite-level college basketball showcase

1:15 AM ET

  • ESPN employees

Any university basketball supporter still left let down by Gonzaga’s wire-to-wire manhandling of UCLA on Tuesday night had to sense manufactured whole by Friday’s epic showdown concerning No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 5 Duke in Las Vegas. The Blue Devils gained by a rating of 84-81 in a match played on Nov. 26 that had the feel of a late March or early April grudge match.

The fight involving potential NBA lottery picks Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga and Paolo Banchero of Duke was among the the will have to-check out elements of the contest, with Banchero (21 points on 8-of-18 taking pictures, which include 20 details in the first 50 percent) leaving with the higher hand statistically as Holmgren (16 factors on 8-of-13 taking pictures) also showed repeated flashes of his probable No. 1 select-style brilliance. The celebrated freshmen had been barely the only story, as Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther (20 details, 10 rebounds) and Andrew Nembhard (6 details, 11 helps, 8 rebounds) and Duke’s Mark Williams (17 factors, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks) and Wendell Moore Jr. (20 factors, 6 helps, 4 steals) had been also remarkable in the contest.

The loss was Gonzaga’s 1st in the frequent time considering that Feb. 22, 2020, when the Bulldogs fell at BYU.

ESPN’s school basketball crew of Myron Medcalf, Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway and Joe Lunardi weighed in on what they observed from the Zags, the Blue Devils, both equally teams’ stunning freshmen and which group is most effective positioned for a best seed on Range Sunday.

Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero were being a major section of the present on Friday evening. Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

What was the most shocking ingredient of Duke’s or Gonzaga’s performance on Friday night?

I feel the most shocking component of the activity was that equally groups ended up aggressive even without their stars in crucial stretches. Holmgren skipped the bulk of the 1st 50 % immediately after he picked up his 2nd foul near the 10-minute mark. But Strawther (20 points), the sophomore from Las Vegas, excelled in front of good friends and family members customers who were being in the setting up to see him engage in. Rasir Bolton, the Iowa Condition transfer, experienced 15 points.

For Duke, Banchero wrestled with what appeared to be cramping concerns that compelled him to go back again to the locker area in the second fifty percent and miss considerable time. When he returned, he didn’t seem like the same guy immediately after scoring 20 factors in the initially fifty percent in one particular of the most dominant efforts I’ve observed from a freshman. Nevertheless, other players stepped up. Williams’ duration was a trouble for Gonzaga. Drew Timme’s bucket with about 30 seconds to engage in was beautifully defended by the youthful big. Moore aided Duke maintain an edge with Banchero unavailable. Jeremy Roach designed some huge performs down the stretch. A lot more than anything, I assume we realized that both teams have a pair of key co-stars this period. Neither group crumbled by way of adversity. Which is a fantastic sign.

— Medcalf

Paolo Banchero affirmed his lottery-select standing right before becoming sidelined for a extended stretch of the next fifty percent. Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

What did we find out about Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren on Friday evening that we didn’t now know?

That cramping might be a factor for Banchero? I you should not basically imagine he’s likely to be a persistent cramper in his basketball profession, but this is the next large game for Duke so considerably this season and it is the next match Banchero has required to depart for an extended time period of time in the 2nd 50 %. In phrases of Banchero’s match, though, he had as extraordinary a initial 50 % as we will see from everyone in school basketball this year. He was intense offensively, appeared snug from the perimeter, led the split with the ball in his fingers — he was phenomenal. 20 factors on 8-for-13 taking pictures with a few 3-tips in the initial 20 minutes.

2 Relevant

Probably the only two locations of Banchero’s sport that have raised problem marks are consistency from 3-level variety and whether he could be a minor bit far more decisive with his offensive moves. In the initial fifty percent, he took 3s in rhythm and he had a few catch-and-shoot tries. And he also moved speedily as soon as receiving the ball. The isolation sets from the elbow and mid-post areas are an productive piece of the repertoire, but he moved much a lot more decisively in opposition to Gonzaga in the opening 50 %.

As for Holmgren, I am not positive he showed (or failed to present) everything that we didn’t by now know. He appeared fluid with the ball in his palms, his 3-position launch was good even although he was -for-3 from at the rear of the arc — and passed up a wide-open corner 3 late in the game — and he blocked photographs. He experienced some early foul difficulties, but was additional disciplined in the next fifty percent and hardly sat on the bench in excess of the last 20 minutes. He showed some physicality and aggressiveness on the offensive glass and finishing all-around the rim. I assume a single thing to be aware was Williams definitely impacted the recreation in the initial 50 percent, and arguably overshadowed Holmgren. We know the places of improvement with Holmgren, primarily his energy and human body, and that did not adjust on Friday evening.

— Borzello

participate in


Paolo Banchero steps into a 3-pointer and drains it.

Duke’s initially thirty day period has provided remarkable victories about Kentucky and Gonzaga. Is there any purpose this team cannot gain a nationwide title, and if so, what is it?

No purpose at all. First, Duke confirmed it is more than just Banchero against Gonzaga. After an outstanding 20-position to start with half, cramps and possibly an adjustment or two by the Bulldogs minimal the potential 2022 No. 1 decide to a solitary absolutely free throw the rest of the way. But the Blue Devils ended up equipped to prevail many thanks to huge online games at both of those ends of the ground from Moore (20 details, 6 assists and 4 steals) and Williams (17 factors, 5 blocks and two steals).

Next, this team is different than some other Duke teams of the new past. Mike Krzyzewski’s groups have been constantly superb on offense for a extremely extensive time. That becoming reported, what has tended to distinguish his national title contenders from the “mere” Elite 8 groups in Durham has been defense.

Keeping Gonzaga to 81 factors in a 79-possession game and in particular harassing the Bulldogs into 17 turnovers most undoubtedly qualifies as fantastic defense. The Zags understood they have been in for a extensive night early when they gave the ball absent on their greatest bread-and-butter perform, a Nembhard pick-and-roll with Timme location the monitor. 6 Duke players recorded at minimum one steal from Gonzaga, and Williams is plainly 1 of the ideal rim defenders in the nation. That variety of D plus the scoring and explosiveness of Banchero certainly offers Coach K a shot at closing his profession with his sixth nationwide title.

— Gasaway



Chet Holmgren follows his have miss with a bucket, forcing Duke to acquire a timeout.

What weaknesses in Gonzaga’s recreation did Duke expose on Friday?

Duke’s first-50 % effectiveness could be the blueprint to sluggish down Gonzaga transferring forward — while not every person has a Banchero or Williams up entrance. But there had been some stressing indicators. A person, Duke defeat Gonzaga in the changeover match in the first 20 minutes. The Blue Devils bought back again defensively, reducing the Zags having simple baskets off of will make or misses, forcing them to participate in in the half-court docket. And then heading the other way, Duke experienced achievements beating Gonzaga downcourt and the Zags made some mistakes in terms of acquiring back and finding set in a half-court protection.

Foul issues was an additional important issue for Gonzaga, and that stemmed from Duke staying aggressive likely to the rim. Texas completely prevented the paint in the first 50 % when it performed Gonzaga, and UCLA had issues ending at the rim. That permitted Gonzaga’s perimeter defenders to be aggressive and disrupt opposition offense. But Duke has 3 bodily motorists in Banchero, Trevor Keels and Moore, and they went straight at Holmgren and Timme — and Williams was a legit go-to put up existence for the Blue Devils. Timme selecting up his fourth foul on an sick-encouraged reach-in when Gonzaga was starting to decide up momentum in the next 50 percent transformed the video game.

Two other challenges Gonzaga experienced offensively: 3-issue shooting and turnovers. The Bulldogs aren’t a great outdoors capturing team, but they are this kind of an amazingly qualified passing group that they’re still in a position to continue to keep defenses chasing shadows in the fifty percent-court docket. But when items slowed down and Gonzaga had to make shots, they didn’t drop. The Zags shot just 6-for-21 from 3. Nembhard has been arguably the finest position guard in college basketball so much this time, but Duke was quite aggressive in its ball-display screen coverages towards him, limiting the time he had to make selections and find teammates. Nembhard controls the tempo as nicely as any individual in the region, but Duke compelled him to pace up his choices.

With all that reported, I’m not overly concerned about Gonzaga shifting ahead. Duke is a legitimate nationwide title contender, the Bulldogs struggled to make photographs and there were big foul hassle problems. And it was nonetheless a one-possession match.

— Borzello



Andrew Nembhard will get out in changeover and will make the rather pass to Rasir Bolton for the layup.

Gonzaga was regarded as a agency in general No. 1 seed for every ESPN’s hottest Bracketology projection, and Duke was a No. 1 seed as perfectly. What are the bracket implications of this consequence for each teams?

We observed a pair of No. 1 seeds in action when Duke knocked off Gonzaga, and both equally would be on the top line if Choice Sunday was nowadays. The Blue Devils unquestionably solidified their placement with the victory, and the Bulldogs — who entered the activity as a comfy No. 1 overall seed — don’t slide much more than enough to drop off the major line.

The far more revealing problem is this: How probably is every of these groups to be a No. 1 seed four months from now? And, even in defeat, the odds favor Gonzaga. The Bulldogs will be favored in each remaining sport on their program. The exact same are not able to be reported for Duke, with another monster examination coming Tuesday at Ohio State in the ACC/Massive 10 Challenge. It is the only accurate highway activity for both the Zags or Blue Devils in non-league participate in.

Formally, our tourney odds chart presents Gonzaga around a few odds in 4 to be a top rated seed and Duke a little better than a 50/50 possibility. Unofficially, I have a difficult time pinpointing three greater teams in all of school basketball — and it would choose at least a few to knock both of those the Blue Devils and Zags from the best of the bracket.

— Lunardi