Kenny Smith thinks Duke is going to need to ditch the zone at some point moving forward.
Duke takes on Kansas in the second Elite Eight game on Sunday, and if the Blue Devils win, they'll head to the Final Four for the first time since 2015. TNT analyst Kenny Smith thinks the Blue Devils will need to switch things up at some point if they want to cut down the nets.
Smith, who doesn't come across as a fan of the zone that Duke has employed this year, said that he thinks the Blue Devils will need to play five minutes of man-to-man defense at some point to win a national title.
Duke's road to a national title, at this moment? Kansas, then likely Villanova, then the winner of Michigan vs. Loyola Chicago. Smith thinks that at least one of those teams will force the Blue Devils out of the zone.
Here's the quote:
"There's one thing about the defense of Duke - the middle of the zone is pretty open. I've said this. To win a national championship - I think they have the most talented team in the country, probably even over Villanova in terms of talent-wise. But at some point, there's going to be a five minute stretch where I think Duke is going to have play man-to-man to win a national championship because I don't think the zone is going to be working.
They're going to have to, as they like to do, slap the floor and play defense - mano a mano. It's going to be five minutes. They don't have to do it the whole game. It might be this game, or whatever. But if they don't do it, I don't think they can win a national championship."
Here's video, via Turner:
Smith could be right - both Kansas and Villanova can shoot the lights out at times. Duke might be forced to make a chance in that scenario. But he might also just really not like the fact that Duke could win a national title playing a zone.
Duke vs. Kansas tips off at 5:05 PM ET.