On the heels of back-to-back wins against Oregon State and Xavier, No. 8 Duke now looks ahead to its championship tilt at the Phil Knight Legacy against No. 24 Purdue in Portland, Ore. With both the Blue Devils and Boilermakers in pursuit of a trophy in the Rose Quarter, our beat writers make their predictions before Sunday's 3:30 p.m. tipoff at the Moda Center.
Jonathan Levitan: Duke 64-60
Let’s get one thing out of the way: This is a very good Purdue team, one that did not get the credit it likely deserved in the preseason. The Boilermakers just cracked the AP Poll for the first time this season, and after taking down No. 6 Gonzaga, should rise higher no matter what happens Sunday.
But there was, and still is, reason to doubt the Boilermakers, whose offense revolves around 7-foot-4 Zach Edey and—like Duke—a steady group of freshman contributors. The Blue Devils looked far better against Xavier than they did against Oregon State; if the eye test is to be trusted, they match up well against Edey and Purdue, from the paint to the 3-point line. Duke leads wire-to-wire and holds on late.
Micah Hurewitz: Duke 70-63
In Duke’s first bouts in Portland, offense has been full of question marks—defense, less so. Defense will be crucial in the championship matchup against a good 3-point-shooting Purdue team with its one-of-a-kind big in Edey. The Boilermakers gave Gonzaga plenty of struggles Friday night and the Blue Devils will have to be sure of those areas defensively and ensure a higher level of consistency shooting the ball to win. I think the Blue Devils have started to figure out who fits in where within the offense and Dariq Whitehead has started to play a larger role. It’s time Duke gets its premier nonconference win in the Rose Quarter with another strong showing from both Jeremy Roach and Kyle Filipowski coming off the rest day.
Sasha Richie: Duke 66-63
Edey is the one to be afraid of on the Boilermakers. The 7-foot-4 paint giant will give Duke’s big men all they can handle. However, between Lively’s defense, Young’s willingness to do the dirty work and Filipowski’s ability to stretch the floor, I think the Blue Devils will be able to, if not contain him, match him. Then, let Roach, Whitehead and Jaylen Blakes work in the backcourt against the rest of Purdue’s young roster. If all of that happens, the Blue Devils have a very clear path to a victory, if a close one, and after a much more put-together performance against Xavier, that seems likely.
Jake Piazza: Purdue 72-66
I have not been particularly impressed by Duke’s play in the Phil Knight Legacy thus far. The Blue Devils’ subpar shooting against Oregon State and mediocre performance against Xavier have shown that the team still has not fully found its groove, and Purdue’s dominant win against Gonzaga had all the signs of a team firing on all cylinders. There have been some impressive individual performances from the likes of Filipowski, Roach and Mark Mitchell, but ultimately I think Duke will struggle to contain Edey and company, and that will be enough for the Boilermakers to continue their hot streak.
Max Rego: Duke 73-68
Despite two wins in this tournament, the Blue Devils have looked a little out of rhythm offensively and have had to grind out a pair of victories. Whitehead and Dereck Lively II have shown flashes, but only flashes, and Tyrese Proctor is in a funk with his jumper. But who on Purdue guards Roach? Putting my faith in either Braden Smith (freshman) or Foster Loyer (freshman) feels risky if I’m Boilermaker head coach Matt Painter, but those may be his only options. All in all, another big afternoon from Roach and key stops down the stretch offset what should be a mammoth game from Edey.
Alex Jackson: Purdue 75-63
The season thus far has been somewhat disappointing for Duke. The top-notch record does not account for the struggles that have been quite apparent in Duke's offense. Whitehead and Lively have essentially been non-factors in the Blue Devil attack. Similar to North Carolina, Duke has been skating by against teams that should not be on the same level. And similar to the Tar Heels, I see that lackluster offense finally catching up to the Blue Devils when they square off against Purdue. The Boilermakers are a very solid team that just took down a very talented Gonzaga squad.
Andrew Long: Duke 73-68
While I agree that this tournament has largely been a disappointment for Duke, I think my glasses are slightly more rose-colored heading into Sunday’s game. Thursday afternoon, the Blue Devils were bad against Oregon State and made a team with just three wins from 2021-22 look good on the way to a win by a smidgen. Against Xavier, Duke’s offense improved drastically against a better team, largely due to immense guard play from Roach and continued excellence inside from Filipowski and Mitchell. I think Edey will give the Blue Devil centers problems and Duke will need to defend for its life on the perimeter against some solid 3-point threats, but defending is what this team is supposed to be good at. Add in some budding offensive rhythm, and I think Scheyer’s team will have just enough to head home victorious.
Rachael Kaplan: Purdue 72-68
Edey is a force. Duke has yet to face someone of his size, simply because it is so rare. The Boilermakers outrebounded Gonzaga 46-31. If the Blue Devils lack the advantage in the paint that they have enjoyed most of this season, it will force them to rely more on their shooting. In the first round of the tournament, Duke went 16-for-60 from the field. That type of inefficient performance would spell disaster against Purdue. The Blue Devils do not need to just shoot better than they did against Oregon State, they need to shoot well, taking on the brunt of the offensive workload. I do not think the squad is up to that challenge just yet and will fall in a close one.
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Max Rego is a Trinity senior and an associate sports editor for The Chronicle's 118th volume. He was previously sports managing editor for Volume 117.
Jake Piazza is a Trinity senior and was sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.
Sasha Richie is a Trinity senior and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.
Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity junior and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.
Jonathan Levitan is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.
Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.
Andrew Long is a Trinity sophomore and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.