Phil Knight Invitational: Duke vs Xavier Preview

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The Duke Blue Devils are shaking their heads after barely winning at the Phil Knight Invitational on Thursday. The good thing about these early-season tournaments in college basketball is that there is another game the very next day, a chance to work off some rust.

Duke vs Xavier Game Information

Game: Duke vs Xavier

Location: Moda Center, Portland, Oregon

Day/Time: Friday, 3:30 p.m. ET

Television: ESPN

Duke Blue Devils

The Blue Devils turned in a shockingly bad performance in Portland on Thursday. They won, but barely, against a not-very-good Oregon State team, 54-51. Why was this game so close? Simple: Duke could not shoot. The Blue Devils shot just 27 percent, one of their worst-ever shooting percentages in a game they won. The key point to make about Duke’s shooting percentage is that if a team’s shooting percentage is low, it obviously means it was not able to get the ball directly to the rim and finish for layups and dunks. Since layups and dunks are very high-percentage shots, it’s clear that any game with a low shooting percentage involves very few successful forays to the basket. The Blue Devils were not physically imposing against Oregon State, and that is something they will definitely have to correct in this game against Xavier.

Duke is very much a work in progress under a new coach, Jon Scheyer. It is a big adjustment for a program which had the same coach for more than 40 consecutive seasons and now has a different voice in the huddle on the bench.

Xavier Musketeers

Xavier defeated Florida on Thursday in Portland, in a game which was entirely different from Duke’s low-scoring slog against Oregon State. Xavier raced by the Gators, 90-83, and did pretty much whatever it wanted on offense. Xavier shot 56 percent from the field, more than twice as good as what Duke did versus Oregon State. The Musketeers made 50 percent of their 3-point shots and got 22 points from two different players, Colby Jones and Souley Boum. Xavier will learn a lot about itself in this game against Duke. The free-flowing offense it displayed against Florida, and also in a recent game versus Indiana in which it scored 79 points but lost by two to the Hoosiers, is not likely to persist. However, if Xavier can indeed score against Duke, that might indicate this team’s offense is for real, at least more than previously thought.

Duke vs Xavier Head-to-Head

These two schools have met four times. Duke has won all four meetings. Duke won the most recent meeting in December of 2008. Duke won the 2004 South Regional Final over Xavier to go to the 2004 Final Four in San Antonio.

Duke vs Xavier Prediction

The Blue Devils are a hard team to figure out, but one day after a terrible shooting performance, the chances are that they will bounce back against Xavier and win comfortably. Take them to cover the NCAAB odds in this one.