Duke to Have Michigan State's Number Again in 1 vs. 2 Battle

marvin bagley duke

Mark Lathrop

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 1:25 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 1:25 PM UTC

Our expert NCAAB handicapper Mark Lathrop often discounts team based trends as useless information. This is not one of those times as Tuesday's situation presents some excellent wagering value in a marquee game featuring the top 2 teams in the country.

2017-18 NCAAB Record: 2-0 (+2.00 Units)

Free NCAAB Pick: Duke -2Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Duke Blue Devils vs. Michigan State Spartans

In one of the better early season matchups in years, the #1 ranked Duke Blue Devils play the #2 Michigan State Spartans on a neutral court in the Champions Classic played in Chicago on Tuesday in the first game of the Champions Classic. Both teams are coming off of huge ATS wins against lesser opponents, but the odds in this game suggest a different outcome. The Blue Devils have been placed at just 2-point favorites across the board. With each team scoring in the 90s in their cupcake games, the listed total of 156 also suggests some better defense will be played here.

Duke made a jump in NCAA championship futures betting after 6-foot-11 forward Marvin Bagley, committed to come to the program a year early. Bagley will likely be the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018 and has averaged 24.5 points and 10 rebounds in his first 2 games in college. Behind Bagley in scoring for Duke is the maligned Grayson Allen, who is averaging 20 points per game. Allen has the most experience against Michigan State on a Duke roster full of freshmen. Allen scored 20 points against Michigan State last year when they played at Duke – a game that the Blue Devils won 78-69 but failed to cover as 13-point favorites.

Michigan State is led by sophomore 6-7 swingman Miles Bridges, who put up 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Spartans' season opener against North Florida in just 27 minutes on the floor. Bridges was shut down against the Blue Devils in their game last year, as he shot 30.8% from the floor and fouled out after picking up just 11 points.

What’s interesting about last year’s game is that Duke used just 6 players in it, compared to 11 players for the Spartans. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski must have liked the matchups he had on the floor and stuck with it the entire game. Another theory is that he just knows how to beat Tom Izzo and his scheme and picked the best players to do it and left them on the floor. After all, Coach K has beaten Michigan State in 10 of his last 11 matchups and 6 games in a row.

Most of the time, a handicapper can completely discount team trends as the players change from year to year and sometimes the coaches as well. This is not one of those cases, as these head coaches have been ingrained in these programs for a very long time. Duke’s style of play and schemes have an advantage over Michigan State with these two coaches at the helm. Given that Duke also gave Michigan State’s best player fits last year as well I have no qualms in backing the Blue Devils as small favorites as my NCAAB pick for this game.

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