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Filling the Void: Duke and Gonzaga Meet in Maui

Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and R.J. Barrett’s Blue Devils take on Zach Norvell, Jr., Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke’s Gonzaga Squad in Maui.

Rui Hachimura by All-Pro Reels is licensed under CC BY ND-2.0

Filling the Void: Duke and Gonzaga Meet in Maui

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

We’re several months into our worldwide attempt to “flatten the curve” and have been offering daily escapes into the sporting events of yesteryear through our “Filling The Void” series. We’ve looked back on the inspiring, mind-boggling, and remarkable events as well as the ordinary, daily games we’ve been missing in our lives. We here at The Turf Sports sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and being safe through these trying days. We’d also like to take a moment to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of those front-line folks keeping society going – from the medical community to those stocking grocery store shelves, delivering supplies around the country or helping us all fight this virus together in some other essential, invaluable way. You are all heroes.

On another note, we at The Turf have always been of the mind that standing up for what is right and standing up in opposition to hate and violence is necessary. In that same breath, we affirm that Black Lives Matter. To donate to this fight, or for resources on how to help the fight against systemic racism in the United States here is a small portion of the many organizations and groups to consider: Black Visions CollectiveLGBTQ Freedom FundThe Okra ProjectReclaim the BlockColor of ChangeShed Light | Spread Light, and Black Lives Matter

Today: Two powerhouse teams face off in Hawaii ahead of an NCAA season in a game that is filled with highlights.

The 2019 NBA Draft Class was one of the most anticipated in recent history. Even in the Covid-19 shortened 2020 season, we’ve seen young stars take over the league. The majority of whom have come from this game right here.

Out of the gate, the Duke Blue Devils were setting themselves up for a National Championship run. Their first big test was a matchup with ACC rival and #2- ranked Kentucky in November. The game was nationally televised as Champions Classic, a game that serves as the tip-off for the NCAA Basketball season. The Blue Devils and their three freshmen stars absolutely trounced the Wildcats, 118-84. The World had officially been introduced to the immense talents of Cam Reddish, RJ Barrett, and of course, Zion Williamson.

Since that moment, Duke has reigned supreme, despite waffling among top 5 rankings. The Blue Devils, despite the number preceding them, took their talents to national broadcasts throughout the season and proved to everyone that they were the team to beat. After the kind of destruction left in their wake, it’s no wonder they were given the #1 seed in the Eastern Region of 2019 NCAA tournament. Sadly, they’d never see the Final Four, thanks to Michigan State.

That run of national dominance begins here.

Gonzaga, on the other hand, was coming off a tough 2017-18 season and was looking to shake things up. Over the pevious 23 season, Gonzaga had only seen themselves slip from the top spot in the weak West Coast Conference four times. While that looks great on paper, Zaga failed to see success outside of their conference, or in the NCAA Tournament.

This season, however, felt different.

With Zach Norvell, Jr. and Rui Hachimura returning to Spokane, and the addition of Brandon Clarke, the Bulldogs were looking like they would be ready for a shot at the National Title. And a big statement in Maui would help them get the respect they thought they deserved.

This game is awesome, and it’s fun as hell to watch. In a game that doesn’t matter, both teams show off and show up whenever they have the chance. So sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Fun Fact: Duke was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by Michigan State in the Elite 8. Michigan State would then go on to face #3 Texas Tech in the Final Four. The team that Tech defeated to get to the Final Four?

The Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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