Submitted by Wayne Root on Sunday, January 24, 2016 at 7:00 PM
The Duke Blue Devils are one of my favorite go-against teams in the postseason. They’re almost always overrated by the public and the oddsmakers. Nobody receives more hype from ESPN through a season than Coach K and the Dukies.
In the regular season, you typically have to pick your spots. Coach K’s history was to:
*Start hot thanks to his superior preparation
*Wear down a bit in conference play because of little depth
*Last as long in the postseason as his stars would allow
His teams were capable of covering spreads in the first two-thirds of a season. So, it wasn’t smart to fade them all the time. And, they were even capable of going the distance if they stayed healthy, shot consistently well in a way that would hide their soft defense, and caught a few breaks in the brackets.
More likely though, was that his teams would be exposed in March. Sometimes it was unheralded opponents like Lehigh or Mercer. Other times, that wouldn’t happen until they ran into a bully that pushed them off the boards and scored easily inside. Your weaknesses are eventually exposed in college basketball.
This year has been a bit different. Duke has seemed vulnerable all season. Then, a key injury really hurt because of lack of depth. The ACC hasn’t exactly sparkled in 2015-16. And Duke just lost three games in a row before rallying to get past NC State on Saturday.
DUKE’S LAST FOUR GAMES
Duke (-7.5) lost at Clemson 68-63
Duke (-8.5) lost to Notre Dame 95-91
Duke (-11.5) lost to Syracuse 64-62
Duke (-5.5) won at NC State 88-78
The Blue Devils were still #20 in the most recent AP poll. They’re not playing like a team that should be in the top 40, let alone the top 25. And, now they have to go on the road to face #15 Miami…a team that always gets up for them. In fact, Miami has won three of the last five meetings straight up going back to 2012. The Hurricanes were an underdog each time!
2012: Miami (+12) beat Duke 78-74 in overtime (16-point cover)
2013: Miami (+2.5) beat Duke 90-63 (29.5-point cover)
2013: Miami (+7.5) lost to Duke 79-76 (4.5-point cover)
2014: Miami (+4) lost to Duke 67-46 (rare Duke highlight)
2015: Miami (+15.5) won at Duke 90-74 (31-5. Point cover)
That’s 4-1 ATS for the Hurricanes, with two different games being pointspread covers near 30 points.
What’s going to happen Monday Night on ESPN when what might be the best Miami unit of the past few years faces what might be the worst Duke unit?
I won’t post an official selection here in a web article. Those are for paying customers! But, I can tell you that I’ll be watching this one very closely because both of these teams will likely be big stories (for better or worse) moving forward.
*Both teams are going to matter in the ACC race
*Both teams have a shot to play Cinderella in the ACC tournament
*Both teams will be in the Sweet 16 discussion in the Big Dance
And, obviously, we know Duke will be on TV a million times between now and mid-march because ESPN might as well be their personal network. Why isn’t Coach K hosting SportsCenter?!
Key angles I’ll be looking at Monday…
*Can Miami handle the pressure of “expectations” now that they’re higher in the rankings and “supposed” to take care of Duke. It’s much easier to bring peak intensity when nobody’s giving you respect. That’s behind so many of my PINNACLE winners in all sports through the years (and behind my personal rise to the top of this industry!). I want to see how Miami deals with this new dynamic.
*Can Duke toughen up on defense? They’re not even in the top 100 defensively in college hoops when you adjust for tempo and schedule strength. This is historically an issue for Duke…but it’s usually not quite this bad. The lack of a bench means the starters have to back off to avoid foul trouble. If this doesn’t get fixed, the Blue Devils may be out in the first round of the Dance again.
You’ll have to sign up for service to see if this game made my Monday cut. You can purchase my BEST BETS in all sports right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about which of my services best suits your individual needs, please talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.
I’ll be back soon to talk about the sports betting backdrop for another big TV game…that will be Iowa/Maryland in the Big 10 that goes Thursday night on ESPN. Maryland hopes to bounce back from that Saturday night loss at Michigan State. Iowa wants to keep making a case for a #1 seed…which is typically awarded to the best team in the Big 10.
Are you behind the curve this season in college basketball? Get up to speed! It’s time for you to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!