Is Duke for Real? Bettors Want to Know

Written by:
Tony George
Published on:
Duke readers want to know:  Is Duke for real?

Our Tony George attempts to answer this question. 

Duke remains one of the most prominent college basketball programs in the nation and they have high expectations this season with four returning starters from a squad that went 28-6 SU last season. Expectations are always high in Durham and the Blue Devils have not missed the NCAA Tournament since 1995, so when the question arises this season if Duke is "for real" this refers to the Blue Devils chances to win the national championship because anything less would be considered a disappointment.

Duke has a history of dominating weak teams under head coach Mike Krzyzewski as their depth and pressure defense usually wears down inferior opponents and allows the game to snowball out of control. The key to determining if the Blue Devils are "for real" is to exam how Duke has fared against quality opponents this season.

Duke's first test against a quality team did not go well this season as Duke needed overtime to escape with a 82-79 win versus Rhode Island, despite being a 25-point home favorite in the game. Duke did bounce back with solid showings versus Michigan and Purdue, but then Duke faltered and lost outright as a 9½-point favorite at Michigan in a quick rematch.

Overall, the Blue Devils are just 7-3 SU this season versus Top 50 teams and the Blue Devils are 0-2-1 SU in regulation time in their past three games versus strong opponents. Duke lost outright at Wake Forest as a 2-point favorite on January 28th and was then destroyed 74-47 one week later at Clemson as a 4-point favorite. It was Duke's worst loss since their 103-73 defeat in the national championship game versus UNLV in 1990. Duke continued to struggle last Saturday and needed overtime to defeat Miami-Fla 78-75, despite being a 14-point home favorite.

The Blue Devils play solid defense and allow just 61.0 points per game and only 40.0% FG (versus opponents that average 72.1 ppg and 44.3%). The problem for Duke has been their inconsistency on offense which was especially evident when they scored just 47 points at Clemson last week. The Blue Devils have been especially weak from the three-point line and average just 33.6% (national average is 34.2%). Duke has historically been a team that shoots nearly 50% from the field and this season the Blue Devils are averaging just 44.8% FG overall, including just 42.1% FG away from home.

Duke will face a major test on Wednesday night when they host a talented North Carolina squad. Duke has been installed as a 2-point home underdog which once again shows their weakness when facing a quality team. The Blue Devils might be able to pull the minor upset on their strong home court, but in the long run they are probably only going to earn a #2 or #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. When it comes to winning the national title this year, Duke is not for real.

Duke is a 2 point home dog to North Carolina tonight.

Remember, when betting on tonight's game be sure to check out SBG Global.

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Tony George,        

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