Duke vs. Louisville Pick: Blue Devils to Continue Losing Streak?

Willie Bee

Saturday, January 17, 2015 1:04 PM GMT

A huge Saturday college basketball betting slate includes a pair of top 10 matchups, one of those taking place in Louisville where the Cardinals host Jahlil Okafor and the Duke Blue Devils.

What a difference a week makes. Just six short days ago, the mediots were all pumped up about Mike Krzyzewski's chase for 1,000 career victories, and pointing to the Duke Blue Devils' trip Saturday to Louisville to take on the Cardinals as a possible game the milestone would be reached.

Krzyzewski is still in search of win No. 998, as it turns out, following successive losses to North Carolina State and Miami. And ugly defeats they were, leaving the Blue Devils to try and pull out of this sudden slump against a solid Louisville side.

Duke looks to get back on track in the search for Coach K's 1,000th win at high noon (ET) Saturday, ESPN's cameras on hand with Blue Devil homer Dick Vitale one of the voices behind the microphones at the Fried Chicken Center. Louisville started the wagering proceedings at -4, that spread sticking overnight. SBR's live college basketball odds will have a total a little later this morning.

The first meeting between Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino as Atlantic Coast Conference foes is the 10th collision all-time between Duke and Louisville. The Blue Devils own a slight 5-4 edge in the previous nine contests, but it was the Cardinals coasting to an 85-63 win during the Midwest Region Finals of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

Louisville, a No. 1 seed in that tourney, easily covered a 3½ point spread in that matchup, the total sailing past 137½ with room to spare. The Cardinals went on to capture the National Championship with victories over Wichita State and Michigan.

 

Dukies Look To Avoid 1st 3-game Skid In 8 Years
Nobody every expected Duke (14-2 straight up, 8-8 against the spread) to go undefeated, not with an ACC schedule that is always full of more potholes than a county road in Texas. Then again, nobody really expected the Blue Devils to fall to the Wolfpack and Hurricanes back-to-back, and another loss Saturday would mark the first time in nearly eight years that Duke dropped three games in a row.

If the Blue Devils expect to pull out of the rut, they're definitely going to have to play better defense than what they showed in an 87-75 setback to NC State, and then again in a 90-74 butt-whipping to Miami at home a few days ago. The 'Pack and 'Canes each shot better than 50% from the field, also topping the 50% mark from beyond the arc.

Not only did the Blue Devils allow North Carolina State and Miami to rain treys on them -- combined 20 of 36 from long range -- Duke struggled to find the net from outside. Coach K's kids shot just 27% (13-48) from 3-point land in the defeats, not a good sign for a team so reliant on the long ball and shooting nearly 39% from that range before.

 

Cards Face 4 Roadies In 5 Games After Duke Visit
Louisville (15-2 SU, 5-10-1 ATS) fans didn't really need pumping up to holler and cheer for their Birds, but they'll get it anyway. The Cardinals are planning to honor their 1980 National Championship team at halftime, and the team will wear some throw-back uniforms for the matchup.

None of that really matters to Pitino, nor would the game have been any different for the Cards if Krzyzewski was in line to reach the 1K win plateau. The game is crucial for The Ville in advance of a tough stretch on the schedule that finds the team on the road for four of its next five games. One of those is at No. 2 Virginia, the lone home tilt in the mix two weeks from now against a North Carolina squad that hung the only conference loss on the Cardinals so far.

Louisville's pressure perimeter defense is going to be very tough for a disheveled Duke team to break out of a slump against. As difficult as it is to bank on the Blue Devils losing three straight, I'll go with the Cards for my free NCAA Basketball pick.

Free College Basketball Pick: Louisville -3.5 at BookMaker Sportsbook

Season: 19-24 (-7.40)