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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 7:00 PM

College basketball fans are in for a huge treat Wednesday Night when the #4 Duke Blue Devils visit the #2 Wisconsin Badgers in a game that will be nationally televised by ESPN as part of the Big 10/ACC showdown. We’re still months away from the actual Final Four. But, if there was a Final Four for December, these two would definitely be in it.

*You already know that both are top four in the national rankings

*Ken Pomeroy also has them at #2 and #4, but reversed with Duke as the better team

*The teams are a combined 11-3 ATS versus early spreads, meaning the market must grant them super-team status.

Can you imagine…traditional powers like Duke and Wisconsin actually entered the season UNDER-rated based on their performances thus far! Both are playing at extremely high levels. Let’s run them through JIM HURLEY’s key indicator stats for college basketball, publicly provided by hoops guru Ken Pomeroy on his personal site (kenpom-com), to see how this TV attraction might play out.


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Duke: 116.4 per 100 possessions (#1 in the nation)

Wisconsin: 113.5 per 100 possessions (#2 in the nation)

When you account for pace and schedule strength, these are the two best offenses in the entire country according to Pomeroy. That’s more obvious with Duke because they play near the national average in tempo. Wisconsin is much slower, so it’s harder to see how well they move the ball and score if you’re just looking at raw production. On a per-possession basis, both are truly elite. Note that neither has played a particularly tough schedule so far. And, as we do every year, we need to point out that Duke often starts very fast because Coach K’s tactical and preparation advantages are most valuable early in a season. Duke tends to be overrated in March, but underrated in November and December.


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Duke: 89.5 per 100 possessions (#15 in the nation)

Wisconsin: 88.5 per 100 possessions (#8 in the nation)

Wisconsin often gets false credit for defense because they slow the ball down so much. They’re definitely playing a lot of real defense so far this season. Pomeroy adjusts for pace. Duke is the weaker of the two units, but is MUCH better than normal this year on this side of the floor. If Duke can maintain a top 20 national ranking on defense through the season, we won’t be whining about media hype…we’ll be part of the media hype!


Pace Ranking

Duke: #144

Wisconsin: #311

Here’s what we mean about pace. Duke is a bit faster than average so far…but just a bit. Wisconsin plays very methodically on offense, which eats up a lot of clock. You longtime readers know that the HOME team tends to enforce its influence on pace whenever a matchup features different approaches. Wisconsin will definitely try to slow down Duke to take the Blue Devils out of their comfort zone.


Against the Spread

Duke: 5-2 ATS

Wisconsin: 6-1 ATS

Excellent form by both teams out of the gate. We need to emphasize again that the market doesn’t give teams like this any breaks early in a season. They’re priced like contenders who aren’t allowed to be rusty, or have transitional periods to get up to speed. Both are playing well above expectations. This really sets up a GREAT game.

Who’s going to win and cover? It will come down to how well Wisconsin controls tempo….and how well either team shoots from the perimeter. As we publish, JIM HURLEY is still deciding whether or not this game will be part of the selection mix. Wednesday’s schedule is loaded, and NETWORK clients only get BEST BETS!

The full resources of our exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach will also be looking over the other matchups in the Big 10/ACC Challenge. You can watch these games on the ESPN family of networks…

Also Wednesday in the Big 10/ACC Challenge

Iowa at #12 North Carolina (7 p.m. ET on ESPN2)

#19 Michigan State at Notre Dame (7:15 p.m. ET on ESPN)

Virginia Tech at Penn State (7:15 p.m. ET on ESPNU)

#7 Virginia at Maryland (9:15 p.m. ET on ESPN2)

Georgia Tech at Northwestern (9:15 p.m. ET on ESPNU)

You can purchase the final word for Wednesday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-888-777-4155. Take care of business today so you can build your bankrolls with basketball before football begins Thursday and Friday. Championship Week is here!

It’s back to football the rest of the week here in the NOTEBOOK...

Thursday: NFL TV Preview…Dallas at Chicago on the NFL Network

Friday: Pac 12 Championship Preview…Oregon vs. Arizona

Saturday: Big 10 Championship Preview…Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

Sunday: NFL TV Preview…New England at San Diego on NBC

Monday: NFL TV Preview…Atlanta at Green Bay on ESPN

Basketball selections are available every day, even when we’re focusing on football here in the NOTEBOOK. Don’t forget that Texas and Kentucky are playing this Friday in another college hoops blockbuster. And, the NBA will quietly grind out a profit for us as oddsmakers are buried in football. GET THE MONEY seven days a week in basketball and football with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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