Free NCAA Basketball Picks for Virginia vs. Duke

Willie Bee

Monday, January 13, 2014 3:46 PM GMT

What the heck is going on in the Atlantic Coast Conference?  A glance at the current conference standings finds a winless North Carolina in the basement, Duke leading an 8-team logjam off to a 1-2 start and two newcomers to the ACC part of a trio of squads still with unblemished records.

The Virginia Cavaliers are among that unbeaten threesome, and they'll have an opportunity to pile on the Blue Devils' early woes in one of Monday's top matchups on the college basketball betting card. ESPN will televise the action at Cameron Indoor Stadium starting at 7 PM (ET), with the contest leading into the network's Big 12 clash between Kansas and Iowa State.

The Blue Devils initially went out as 5.5 point chalk before the spread was adjusted a half-point higher. Sports books are still showing a lack of confidence in releasing an overnight total, so check SBR's live college basketball odds a little later today for that figure.

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Duke has owned this series overall and recently, to no surprise. The Blue Devils have won eight of the last 10 -- 17-3 last 20 -- and stand 115-49 in the previous 164 meetings. The Cavaliers did win the only encounter last season, however. Favored by one at the closing bell, Virginia rode a career-best 36 points by Joe Harris to a 73-68 victory with the game sliding past a 130.5 point total.

Cavs Seek Third ACC Road Win Of Young Schedule

Tony Bennett has to be pleased with his squad's fast start on the ACC schedule, especially since Virginia (12-4 straight up, 6-6 against the spread) drew a tough slate with Monday marking the third road game among the first four conference tilts. The Cavaliers came out on top in the previous two road games -- at Florida State and North Carolina State -- and their backers have cashed in all three ACC contests so far.

A victory on Monday would also push the Cavs to 4-0 in the ACC for the first time in 19 years. The 4-0 beginning to that conference campaign also came at the expense of the Blue Devils just a day short of exactly 19 years ago when Virginia popped Duke 91-88 in double overtime, the last time the Cavaliers left Durham with a victory.

Bennett's bunch isn't going to impress anyone with offensive numbers as the guard tandem of Harris and Malcolm Brogdon are the only two players averaging double-digits on the scoring end...and just barely at that. But it's a different story on the defensive end of the floor where the Cavaliers rank second in the country allowing only 55.2 points per game. That number is even better vs. ACC foes who have managed to put up only 48.7 PPG.

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Blue Devils Look To Turn Even Acc Record

We'll have to wait until later Monday afternoon to see where Duke (12-4 SU, 9-7 ATS) falls in the new polls, but there's a good chance the Blue Devils will be at a 7-year low in the rankings.  Mike Krzyzewski's crew was No. 16 in last week's AP Poll, and could be on the verge of disappearing entirely from the rankings for the first time since 2007.

The Blue Devils went limp in the second half of Saturday's setback at Clemson after taking a 37-31 lead over the Tigers into halftime.  Duke was outscored 23-9 in the final 9½ minutes, and freshman phenom Jabari Parker once again was all but absent down the stretch hitting just one of his four field goal attempts in that span.  Parker was averaging more than 21 points per game through the non-conference schedule, but is 11-of-35 from the field in ACC action (31.4%) and scoring just over 11 PPG in the three league contests.

One thing going in Duke's favor is a 25-game win streak at Cameron, and as mentioned before, it has been a while since Virginia was able to win on this floor.  The Cavaliers have managed to cover their last two trips to Durham, and I'm going to ride them for my free college basketball pick on Monday.

College Basketball Pick: Virginia +6

Season: 16-9 (+6.1)