The North Carolina State Wolfpack remain firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble at 18-11 overall and 9-9 in the ACC. They will have a huge opportunity on Monday night when they visit a Duke Blue Devils team that is currently not playing its best basketball.
These two teams met less than two weeks ago in Raleigh when the Wolfpack led wire to wire and dominated the Blue Devils, winning 88-66. North Carolina State held Duke to just 0.87 points per possession as the Blue Devils went just 4-of-17 from behind the arc and 10-of-22 from the free-throw line.
The Wolfpack, meanwhile, went 8-of-13 from three and 16-of-21 from the line and only turned the ball over 10 times in the game.
Since that game, Duke has beaten Virginia Tech and lost to both Wake Forest and Virginia. In the Wake Forest game, the Blue Devils were up nine with 1:15 to go and ended up losing by 12 in double overtime. This past weekend the Virginia Cavaliers held them to just 50 points.
Duke is a 12.5-point favorite at home, with the over/under set at 151.5.
Hunting for a bid
The Wolfpack are about what you expect from a wagering standpoint, inconsistent, just like their play. On the season, they are 13-15-1 against the spread but a respectable 6-5 ATS in true road games.
In their last five games, they are 1-4 ATS and have gone over in five of their last seven games. In their last 20 games against the Blue Devils, the Wolfpack is just 6-14, and the total has gone over in each of the team’s last six matchups.
Are the Blue Devils hitting the wall?
There have been times this season when Duke has looked like the best team in the nation, however, that hasn’t been the case recently as they have lost three of their last four games.
The Blue Devils have lost six games this season in which they were favored, but are still 13-2 straight up at home this season. On the season, Duke is 14-15 against the spread, but just 2-6 over their last eight games. They have gone over in 11 of their last 14 games and 20 of 29 games on the season.
One needs a bid; the other needs to stop a skid
This is a huge game for both teams as North Carolina State seeks an NCAA Tournament berth, and the Blue Devils are trying to climb up the seed lines. I think it is safe to assume that the free-throw woes won’t be repeated as the Devils shoot a respectable 71% from the stripe as a team, but the wing scoring has been hit or miss all season.
The other issue for Duke has been the defense. The Blue Devils gave up 88 points to the Wolfpack a couple of weeks ago and then gave up 113 (in double overtime) to Wake Forest last week. That shouldn’t happen with their defensive ability. I expect Duke, and Tre Jones, in particular, to be focused tonight.
For the Wolfpack, Markell Johnson played one of the best games in his career against Duke in the first game with 28 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Can we expect a repeat performance? Again, I expect Jones to be fired up for this game.
The easiest play here is the over. Hammer it. As for the spread, 12.5 is a lot of points against a team that just beat you by 22. However, given State’s inconsistency and what should be a highly motivated Blue Devils team, I’ll take Duke to cover.
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