The Duke Blue Devils have been listed as a top five choice among NCAAB odds makers to capture this year’s “Big Dance,” currently at a price of 12/1.
Cook, Sulaimon return
Blue Devils guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon return for action, while last season’s starting mates Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly have departed. Cook led his troops in assists (5.3 APG) and steals (1.4 SPG), while Sulaimon hit 80.2 percent from the foul line.
Duke notched a 6-5 spread record in its final 11 contests last year, including a 3-2 ATS mark as a double-digit favorite. Cook and Co. suffered an early exit from the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, losing an 83-74 battle as 10-point ‘chalk’ to the Maryland Terrpains, followed by a trio of sizable wins as part of “March Madness” before their setback with Louisville.
Parker joins Jefferson, Hood
Duke’s Jabari Parker is the team’s top new recruit, expected to start in the front court alongside sophomores Amile Jefferson and Rodney Hood. Parker comes in with his share of accolades from Chicago’s Simeon Academy, while piling in 18.4 PPG and 10.4 RPG in his senior year.
Jefferson saw most of his freshman season’s playing time during the heart of ACC conference play, putting up double digits in road duels with the Miami Hurricanes, Florida State Seminoles and North Carolina State Wolfpack. The Philadelphia native shot 54.3 percent from the field through the year, while logging three blocks in Duke’s 84-64 win as 12 point home ‘chalk’ over Maryland
Blue Devils senior Tyler Thornton continues giving the team’s bench some depth, following 22 MPG in last year’s campaign. “Thunder Tush” drained three-point buckets at a 39.2 percent clip, while delivering 10 assists in December’s 88-50 spanking of the Delaware Blue Hend.
Check out our earlier Futures Odds on the Blue Devils, here.
Blue Devils to meet Kansas, Michigan
Duke’s first big test of the year comes in Chicago, meeting the Kansas Jayhawks as part of the State Farm Champions Classic. The Blue Devils then finish November with the Preseason NIT, facing a possible meeting with the Arizona Wildcats.
December’s schedule has a home clash slated with the Michigan Wolverines in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, followed by a marquee date at New York’s Madison Square Garden against the UCLA Bruins. Atlantic Coast Conference play then begins with January’s visit to South Bend, facing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Duke will have its rivalry dates with the North Carolina Tar Heels circled, following a pair of victories in both meetings last year. The Blue Devils fell short of cashing ATS in February’s 73-68 victory as 10 ½-point home favorites, while holding off UNC in March’s 69-53 triumph to collect as two-point road dogs.
Duke will hate its share of challenges, but should be in position for a top seed in this year’s “March Madness.” “Coach K” and his troops cashed at 7-3 ATS in their first 10 ‘board’ battles last year and are again worth backing for some sizable wins out of the gate with our NCAA basketball picks.