Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 5:00 PM
Because it’s been an underplayed story so far this season, the first REAL debut of the superconference era is Monday Night on ESPN’s Big Monday when traditional ACC power Duke visits former Big East power Pittsburgh. The TV network has already been hyping this game to the gills. And, they’re already getting a head start on doing that for Saturday’s Duke/Syracuse game that was purposely set the night before the Super Bowl for maximum exposure. The “new look” ACC is truly in the spotlight!
Will Duke send a message to the newcomers about what they can expect in the race to the title? Or, will it be the newcomers sending a message about how the Big East has always been better than the ACC? So far, the standings bear out what the Big East has been saying all these years:
Not only are Syracuse and Pittsburgh at the top…but Pitt’s only loss was to Syracuse! The former Big East brothers are undefeated against the ACC so far. It’s up to Duke to save the day!
Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S standard indicator stats say about Duke’s chances of winning on the road on Big Monday.
Duke: #9 in Pomeroy, #8 in Sagarin
Pittsburgh: #5 in Pomeroy, #15 in Sagarin
Interesting how college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy sees Pittsburgh as the superior team, while USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin says it’s Duke. There’s a lot of parity near the top of the heap this season, as the new officiating priorities have allowed several offenses to be productive while limiting the strengths of the most physical defenses. If you average out the two ratings, Duke gets the nod slightly on a neutral court. Pittsburgh is the deserving favorite on their home floor.
Offensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)
We have two elite offenses here. Duke’s doing a fantastic job with the ball thanks to Jabari Parker and his talented teammates. Few realize that Pittsburgh has also been very effective on a per possession basis. Duke’s been running this year, while Pitt prefers the halfcourt game. Once you account for that, these are extremely efficient offenses.
Defensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)
Pittsburgh gets the nod in Pomeroy’s numbers because they also have a strong defense. Even with the changes in emphasis with the rules, Pitt is still getting stops at the rim and forcing turnovers. It’s not just the slow pace that’s disrupting opponents. Pitt guards people. Duke is off the pace in this category by the standards of the nation’s elite. It’s very noticeable when they play good teams, less so when playing at home vs. an outmatched opponent. Given Pittsburgh’s offensive prowess and home court advantage, there’s a chance that the Panthers really embarrass the Duke defense Monday Night. That’s something to watch because of what it means for March Madness. Duke, no matter how great its own offense is, has little chance of running the table in the Dance if their defense can’t stop quality opponents.
Here’s the confirmation of the pace commentary. Duke just misses cracking the top 100 with a pace that’s well above average. They don’t play racehorse basketball. But, they like getting their athletes in the open floor so they can create cheap points. Pitt prefers to walk the ball up and dare you to stop their sets. As we always tell you when there’s a difference like this, it’s usually the HOME team that’s able to impose its will on a game tempo-wise. Can Duke compete on the road at a slower pace? That’s another important question for the future…because Syracuse will also try to slow down Duke this Saturday…and then tournament basketball is also played a slower pace because every possession matters so much.
Against the Spread
Duke’s great offense has allowed them to hit 60% against the number even as a public team. They’re running up the score when things are going well, taking the line out of the conversation. Pittsburgh hasn’t been able to do the same thing even with those strong Pomeroy rankings on both sides of the ball. That creates an interesting dynamic for those trying to pick this pointspread winner.
JIM HURLEY knows how important MONDAYS are to your bankroll. At press time, it’s likely he’ll have something for you in this game. He’s also looking at Villanova/Georgetown on FOX1, and Oklahoma State/Oklahoma in the ESPN nightcap. And don’t forget about the NBA! You can purchase the final word every game day right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about basketball seasonal programs, or combination packages that would include the Super Bowl, call us in the office Monday during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.
Back Tuesday for that huge Michigan State/Iowa game in the Big 10. Then, we move to the Big 12 Wednesday for Iowa State at Kansas. The more money you make these next few days, the more you’ll win in Sunday’s SUPER BOWL. Keep building your bankroll with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!