Evansville to be Smothered by Duke Wednesday Night

Mark Lathrop

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 12:36 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 12:36 PM UTC

Our NCAAB handicapper, Mark Lathrop, inspects the betting markets regarding Duke's first game back from their shocking loss to Boston College. Read on as he finds value as shorthanded Evansville comes into town as a huge underdog.

Free NCAAB Picks: UNDER 146
Best Line is (-105) at Heritage
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The Duke Blue Devils will try to get the bad taste out of their mouth from their shocking loss to Boston College 11 days ago, as they host the shorthanded Evansville Purple Aces on Wednesday evening. That huge gap between games has either served to reduce the anger over the loss for Duke or has amped up the desire to get back into the win column as soon as possible. The books don’t think getting back into the win column will be much of an issue here for Duke though, who has been placed as early 25-point favorites at sites such as BetOnline. The O/U total has opened up in early markets at 147.

Evansville would have had a good shot to be competitive in this game if it weren’t for injuries. Their leading scorer, 6’ 6” senior guard Ryan Taylor, broke his foot in late November and will likely miss 6 weeks or more. Taylor was averaging 21.3 points per game for the Aces, while taking 38.7% of their shots. That percentage of the number of shots taken for a team is ranked #1 in the country – in this case, a bad thing with Taylor missing from the lineup.

Also, recently out for Evansville is 6’ 3” sophomore guard, Dru Smith, who was averaging 12.4 points and 5.5 assists through the first 10 games. Smith is a deadly shooter and his highly ranked field goal percentages will be missed badly by Evansville in this game. That will leave 6’ 5” senior swingman Blake Simmons to take up the bulk of scoring duties. He’s a good shooter as well, hits 52.4% of his 3pt attempt, but will be the sole focus of the Duke defense on Wednesday. Evansville has still won 5 in a row SU coming into this game by relying on their defense. They’ve covered the 3 lines that were available in those games, with each one coming well under the listed total available at books. The Purple Aces rank 16th in the country in allowing just 61.9 points per game on the year.

These two teams couldn’t be more different in offensive pace, with the Blue Devils ranked 21st in the country with an average possession length of 15.1 seconds and Evansville ranked 344th (out of 350) with a 19.8-second average possession length. Duke has the top-ranked offense in the country as ranked by efficiency, and also are tops in the nation in offensive rebound percentage.

Since I’ve begun writing this article, the line has since moved up to 28-points in favor of Duke at both BookMaker and BetOnline. It appears the markets are pricing in a big bounce-back spot for Duke after their ‘recent’ loss nearly two weeks ago. My angle here is that they will have spent a lot of time practicing the little things, which should lead to a thorough and dominant defensive performance. Add in the style of play for Evansville and we have more than enough reasons to take the Under in this game as our Wednesday NCAAB pick.

2017-18 NCAAB Record: 17-8 , +8.50 Units (1 Pending)

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