NCAA Basketball Picks – Duke Blue Devils at Virginia Cavaliers Betting

Written by:
Phil Simon
Published on:
Feb/08/2019

Is this the game of the year? If not, it’s damn close. At least it should be the game of the ACC season. The Virginia Cavaliers look to avenge their only loss of the season when they host the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday in a battle of league-leaders.


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The two are even with UNC at the top of the ACC standings with the season winding down. And if this matchup is anything like the first meeting, fans are in for a treat. Duke escaped that game at Cameron Indoor with a 2-point win by scoring the most points the Cavs have allowed this season.

Duke Blue at Virginia Cavaliers

Date and Time: Saturday, February 9, 2019, 6 p.m. ET

Location: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA

Opening CBB Odds: (Check Back Later)

Duke at Virginia TV Coverage: ESPN

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Odds Analysis

Duke opens a rugged six-game stretch that also has them playing UNC, Louisville and the team that handed them their only conference loss so far, Syracuse. Since that defeat the Dookies have won six straight, a run that started with a 72-70 thriller over UVA. Duke hasn’t played a lot of road games this season and this will be by far the toughest of the bunch. They are 4-0 away from home in true road games with all of them coming in ACC play.

The Cavs have done a nice job of wiping away the stench of last year’s NCAA Tournament failure. Their only loss was at Duke three weeks ago and their defense has once again been the catalyst for an impressive 20-1 record to this point. UVA has yet to lose at JPJ Arena posting an 11-0 record while going 8-3 ATS facing spreads of 20 or more points in six of those games.

The Cavs are playing a smothering brand of defense, leading the nation in points allowed per game and three-point field goal percentage. The latter might not mean much in this contest since the Blue Devils don’t shoot threes an awful lot. UVA gave up a season-high in its loss at Duke a few weeks back. The Cavs have won four straight since that defeat holding opponents to 55 points or less in three of them.

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Duke

Two of the best teams in the country play in the same conference, so for fans of college basketball this is a treat. Not much separated the teams when they met in Durham on Jan. 19 with the Dookies pulling out the narrow victory. And they did it by beating what’s worked for the Cavs, shooting better than 50 percent from the field for the game and 63 percent in the second half. The freshmen completed the victory by themselves with Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish combining to take 47 of the team’s 51 shots to score 66 of their 72 points.

The offense hummed in that game and it’s been moving like a well-oiled machine all season. Scoring 72 points on UVA is like reaching 100 against most other teams. Duke scored at least 80 points in its previous three games and ranks No. 4 in the country with an average of 87 points per game. The key for the Devils is how their rookies respond to their first real road test. Barrett dropped 30 and Williamson 27 in the first meeting, and the Dookies will have Tre Jones available for this one after he missed the first matchup with an injury.

Virginia

The Cavs rely on the country’s top scoring defense to win, but they will have to score to keep pace with Duke. Without much scoring help from the bench or a major presence inside, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome become huge factors. The pair struggled from three-point range in the first meeting, but playing in raucous Cameron Indoor can have that affect on opponents. Guy and Jerome are both better than 40 percent from distance for the season, but they were a combined 3 of 12 in the first meeting

Launching from distance is a bigger part of Virginia’s offense than Duke’s and just reaching their season average would likely be enough to push them over the top. Valuing the basketball will be a point of emphasis for Tony Bennett and his crew. Over the last two games the Cavs have coughed it up 30 times, which is uncharacteristic. And that turnover rate could prove lethal against Duke, which plays the transition game better than anyone.

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The Cavs didn’t play their best in the first meeting and it proved costly. Some will say Duke didn’t play its best either, leaving a lot of points on the free throw line. I don’t expect Duke to have an overwhelming advantage from the stripe in this one and that’s likely going to be the difference. Williamson and Barrett will get their points, but the Cavs will make it tough. And having the homecourt edge for a matchup between the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked teams in the country will be the deciding factor.

CBB Score Prediction: Virginia 68, Duke 65

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