Blue Devils Sharp Chalk over Top Seeded Jayhawks

Swinging Johnson

Saturday, March 24, 2018 6:13 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 24, 2018 6:13 PM UTC

No. 2 Duke will meet No. 1 Kansas out of the Midwest Region to determine which team will enter the Final Four. Let’s check out this matchup and back the right team in our college basketball picks.

No. 2 Duke (24-7 SU, 22-12 ATS) vs. No. 1 Kansas (30-7 SU, 19-16 ATS)

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Free NCAAB Pick: Duke -3 ½Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

· Kansas is 5-1 ATS in their last six games as an underdog.

· Kansas is 4-1 ATS in their last five games as an underdog of 0.5-6.5.

· Kansas is 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning percentage above .600.

· Duke is 4-1 ATS in their last five Sunday games.

· Duke is 6-1 ATS in their last seven games following an ATS loss.

· Duke is 9-1 ATS in their last 10 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5.

Duke bounces into the Elite Eight after a hard-fought 69-65 victory over upstart Syracuse. It was a game in which the Blue Devils were installed as 11-point favorites by the college basketball odds makers but one that never saw either team gain a double-digit advantage at any point during the contest. Therefore, it proved to be a bitter pill to swallow for all those who backed Duke in their college basketball picks but fans of the Blue Devils were undoubtedly thrilled to see their team advance to the next round. Freshman forward Marvin Bagley III had 22 points to lead all scorers in the win while another towering freshman, Wendell Carter Jr., hauled down a dozen boards.

The Jayhawks dominated the first half to such a degree that Clemson, try as they might, could not fully claw its way to victory in their Midwest Region Sweet 16 battle on Friday night. Bettors backing Kansas -5 must have felt pretty good about their 40-27 lead heading into the half but the Tigers were not going to go gently into that good night. Clemson carved that 13-point deficit down to four but they couldn’t pull even and ultimately bowed in a hotly contested 80-76 defeat to top seeded Kansas but narrowly covered the all-important number as five-point underdogs.

This has been a tournament full of upsets and madness but the Midwest Region, although not without its own share of drama, has emerged as the most reasonable facsimile to what the oddsmakers believed would happen before it all unfolded. It’s supposed to be No. 1 versus No. 2 and that’s what we have here. Although, it wouldn’t be March Madness 2018 without a wrinkle even in the sanest region of the four. The surprise of course is that it is the No. 2 seed, Duke, installed as the betting favorite over No. 1 Kansas. As of this Saturday morning writing the Blue Devils have been tagged as a 3 ½ point favorite across the board at all the major online sportsbooks.

So just how and why is Kansas taking a backseat to their second-seeded opponents? Both teams have legendary coaches in Mike Krzyzewski and Bill Self. But the edge belongs to Duke for a number of reasons and we will start with the fact that this is a team that has gone 10-2 straight up and a sparkling 9-3 ATS down the stretch. Kansas has also been impressive winning seven of their last eight contests but have gone a pedestrian 4-4 against the number. Duke covers – Kansas not so much.

Perhaps the biggest difference between these two squads is rebounding and defense with the edge going to Duke in both categories. The Blue Devils were fourth in the nation on the glass, averaging 41.4 rebounds per game versus 35.4 (177th) for the Jayhawks. The Duke defense would up 94th in the nation allowing 69.2 PPG versus Kansas’ 71 PPG (142nd). However, Duke’s defense down the homestretch of the season and in the tournament has blossomed dramatically. Over the course of their last 11 games Duke’s defense has been among the very best, surrendering just 62.2 points per game. In addition, the Blue Devils offense was ranked eighth in the country versus Kansas’ 29th ranked scoring unit.

Lastly, the dynamic duo of Duke’s freshmen sensations Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. will prove too much for Kansas. Bagley could go No. 1 while Carter is a surefire top 10 pick in this year’s draft. Simply too much talent on Duke’s side of the ledger so I say lay it and like it.

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