Duke An Underdog Play At Virginia Worth Making

Coach K

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 2:29 PM GMT

What's blue with horns and an underdog on the NCAA basketball odds tonight? That would be the Blue Devils who are getting 5 on the road at the Virginia Cavaliers.

Season: 33-33-2 (-3.30)

One team has been rising steadily the past couple of weeks while the other is on the decline. The result is they're both sitting as No. 4 seeds in Joe Lunardi's latest brackets, and ranked accordingly in the conventional polls released earlier this week. Oh, and did I mention the winner of their Wednesday night matchup could claim a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference lead?

It sets the table for a March Madness atmosphere inside John Paul Jones Arena where the Virginia Cavaliers host the Duke Blue Devils for a 9 PM (ET) ESPN start. Bookmaker sent the Cavs out -5½, the spread quickly dipping to -5 while the total has been on the rise to 131½.

 

Has Anyone Seen Virginia's Defense?

After a 3-game homestand, Duke (20-5 straight up, 10-14 against the spread) hits the highway for three of its next four collisions, winning all three at Cameron to extend the current streak of dubyas to five. The Blue Devils only managed to cover the NCAA basketball odds in one of the victories in Durham, that being the 86-78 decision over North Carolina that had them pegged by 3 points at the closing bell. All three games at home failed to reach the totals after Mike Krzyzewski's club began the conference slate with eight of nine contests going 'over.'

Virginia (18-6 SU, 14-8 ATS) could use a pick-me-up win in front of the home fans after falling twice in the last three games, and three of the last five. Defense has been the biggest culprit recently, the Cavaliers ranked first in the country allowing just over 55 points per game but surrendering 67-even in the last three. The latest setback for Tony Bennett's boys was an 80-78 loss in double-overtime at Virginia Tech on Sunday, and the Cavaliers are 3-3 this season against ranked opponents.

 

Visitors 18-7-1 ATS Last 26 Meetings

For the sixth consecutive season, the Cavs and Blue Devils are only scheduled against each other one time, though they did square off in the finals of the ACC Tournament in 2014 when UVA won its first conference crown in nearly 40 years. Duke owns a commanding 118-50 advantage after taking the contest in Durham last season, 63-62, on a Grayson Allen buzzer beater. The Blue Devils were favored by 2½ in that one which gave them a 2-game win streak in the series following a 69-63 triumph in 2015 on this floor, that time as 5½ point dogs. Last year's game at Cameron stopped a 4-game run of 'over' winners. and marked the fifth time in six meetings the Cavaliers covered.

Duke has failed twice to either win or cover as a road 'dog in the ACC, those games coming consecutively at Florida State and Louisville last month. I believe the Blue Devils can at least stay close enough for my free college basketball pick to cover tonight.

Free NCAAB Pick: Duke +5 

Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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