It would be a disservice to call the Duke-Goliath game a game, because it would be a disservice to what happened in Las Vegas at an hour that no sporting event should ever be starting. I stayed up to watch the game that was more than a game, a Final Four preview, a clash between the two best freshmen in the country, a chance for the Zags to establish dominance or for the Blue Duke to lose. The entertainment of the game was constant, even though the Zags were dealing with rushed shots that just wouldn't drop for much of the first half. Paolo Banchero, a Seattle-born freshman, was in the movie.
I was able to learn a lot about the Duke forward when I looked at his Wikipedia page this morning, as he grew to 3 feet tall when he was 15 months old. I thought I would share a fun fact with you all. Despite being out for a large chunk of the second half with cramping issues last night, Banchero racked up 21 points and five rebound, but not reflective of just how dominant he looked on the court last night. The first half had twenty points.
He handles the ball and shoots go-ahead threes with ease, and he has the stature to get physical on both sides of the ball in the paint, which is often missing in young players of his height. The debate over who would be the first pick in the draft was over last night, and it was clear that he would be the one. Coach K has put together an all-around strong roster with a chance to take him to the top for his farewell season, but the most NBA-ready player in the NCAA is coming into his own, with his unique combination of size and athletic ability. I think that this game would have been different if Banchero hadn't left to get an IV for his quad pains.
It was impossible to ignore him in the first half, as he drained shot after shot from all over the court, one of those halves where it seems like the basketball was magnetized to the net when it came out of his hands. It was a work of art, and it was best represented by the 17 turnovers. The style of play that was used last night was aggressive and fast-paced, but there were some sloppy plays that were expected. The Coach K Farewell Tour continues as Duke is still perfect after the biggest game of the season. The beauty of college basketball is that there is always a chance of a buzzer beater.