Duke vs. Michigan State Champions Classic NCAAB Picks

Jeff Grant

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 1:54 PM GMT

Duke possesses one of the more talented rosters in the country, which makes it a worthy college basketball pick against Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic.

Sluggish Start
Michigan State is the only team in the AP Top 25 to open with six of eight games away from home, which is important to consider when looking over the College Basketball odds, as it picked up a 64-59 victory over Navy as 17.5-point road favorites last week.

The Spartans will be led by Preseason All-American Branden Dawson, who is expected to become the only player to start all four Champions Classics, as he’s the team’s returning scorer and rebounder from last year. Over the last two-plus seasons, the program is 4-10 SU and 8-6 ATS as underdogs, with the UNDER going 9-5 in that situation.

 

Dominant
Duke has scored 109 or more points in a pair of wins over Presbyterian and Fairfield to open up the 2014-15 campaign, which can’t be ignored when making your College Basketball pick, as the squad looks to improve upon its 8-2 SU overall mark under Coach K when playing in Indianapolis.

The Blue Devils have had seven different players score in double figures this season, with Quinn Cook, Jahill Okafor and Justice Winslow doing it in both contests.  

It’s important to point out that the roster is comprised of nine McDonald All-Americans, including the top-rated freshmen class entering the season.

 

Izzo Factor
College basketball handicappers will find that seven of the eight meetings in this series during the Tom Izzo era in East Lansing have been decided by 10 or fewer points, but the Spartans have compiled a 1-7 SU record.

Michigan State will need a big performance from senior guard Travis Trice in hopes of staying within this number, as he comes off a career-high 25 points last time out.

 

Plenty of Depth
The Duke Blue Devils have received 82 points from their bench in the first two contests, while Okafor has received plenty of headlines in being named the ACC Rookie of the Week after averaging 18.0 points and 7.5 rebounds.

Duke’s top-rated first-year class has combined for 117 of the team’s 222 points, while senior point guard Quinn Cook has 1,004 points over the course of his career.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Duke Blue Devils as one of their top ATS picks, as they’ve covered the number in their last three opportunities as neutral court favorites of 6.5 to 9 points.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick:  Duke Blue Devils -7 at BookMaker