Duke basketball has seen finer days. Given as good a chance as any to cut down the nets in the Final Four at the start of the season, the Blue Devils fell outside of the top ten for the first time since 2008. Things didn’t improve with a trip to Clemson. The Tigers smacked the Dukies around for 40 minutes and Mike Krzyzewski’s ball club sits at 1-2 in the conference – good enough for tied for seventh in the ACC. Now the hard part starts for the Blue Devils. They take on Virginia and NC State at home before going on the road for three of four including trips to FSU and Syracuse. First, UVA. Duke sits as a 5.5-point favorite for Super Monday’s tilt.
Duke is playing poorly. And it’s why I like them in this spot tomorrow evening. Despite an underwhelming start to conference play, Duke still hasn’t dropped a game at Cameron Indoor. In fact, Coach K and company have protected home hardwood to the tune of double-digits with the exception of a back-to-back trap games against Eastern Carolina and then Vermont. This is a team that loves to play at home in a game where its opponent finally won’t be able to expose Duke’s weakness in the painted area. This is an interesting spot for a team that faces an uphill mental battle to get off the schnide. I’m giving Jabari Parker and the Duke veterans to rally, play a great game and win another by double-digits.
Virginia comes in as one of three undefeated teams within the ACC playing its best basketball of the year. Wins at Florida State and at North Carolina State are impressive but aren’t at the level of an upset victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Joe Harris’ scoring is down this season despite being just as efficient from the floor, which is something UVA can accept with the depth on the wing. Malcom Brogdon and Justin Anderson have both taken steps forward this season. Mike Tobey is one of my more preferred bigs to watch in the conference but he doesn’t provide the type of physicality that Duke struggles with. He’s actually a perfect matchup for the Blue Devil front line, which leads me to believe it could be a rough night for Virginia attacking the Duke athletes from the outside-in.
This is a spot for Duke. Undervalued with some struggles of late, I’m giving Duke one more chance to prove that they are at least somewhat of a legitimate contender this season. They win this one by at least six.
Free Pick: Duke -5.5