Willie’s NCAAB season picks record: 23-15-2 (+7.20 units)
Thursday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Free NCAAB Pick: Texas Tech ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
Thursday’s first-ever meeting between Texas Tech and Duke has more angles than a protractor, starting with the matchup pitting the nation’s best defense in the Red Raiders and one of the country’s most talented offenses when the Blue Devils have the rock.
The historic inaugural clash will also take place in historic Madison Square Garden in what is being called the Ameritas Insurance Classic. Both sides made it to the Elite Eight in March, and it’s the Blue Devils who are favored in this encounter.
Duke Tunes Up With Rout Of Princeton
Texas Tech has sprinted from the gate with a 10-0 record for the first time in nearly 90 years, and it’s all about Chris Beard’s bunch playing the stingiest defense in the country. The Red Raiders are allowing just 51.2 PPG with opponents shooting but 32.2% from the field, both ranking No. 1, and letting their foes connect on just 1-in-4 attempts from outside the arc. Tech has also managed to connect on nearly 50% of its field-goal tries on the offensive end, 13th-best. The only knock is the Raiders’ strength of schedule, in the bottom third according to CBS Sports, though it does include wins over USC, Nebraska and Memphis along the way, covering the NCAA basketball odds in two of those.
Carrying 29-point chalk at Bookmaker in Tuesday’s tilt against Princeton, Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke club ran amok in a 101-50 rout. In doing so, the Blue Devils sent a message to the D-minded Red Raiders that they can play a little defense themselves, finishing the evening with 14 blocks and 12 steals. What’s most amazing about the final score is Duke actually trailed 8-0 early, coming out cold following an eight-day layoff. Texas Tech is the fourth ranked opponent the Blue Devils have faced, beating both Kentucky and Auburn while dropping a 2-point decision to Gonzaga.
Will Public Drive Blue Devils’ Spread Up?
No head-to-head trends to report, obviously, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any history or tendencies to consider. Yet to play a true road game this season, Texas Tech is 3-0 in neutral-site affairs, 2-1 ATS. The Red Raiders have dropped their last two MSG appearances, one of those to Seton Hall in an 89-79 final for their first loss of 2017-18. Duke lost its last stop at MSG in an upset to St. John’s in February, but has generally made itself at home on this floor. In the last 11 matchups with Big 12 schools, the “over” was a winner eight times.
A lot has to go right for Tech to cover this one, much less win it, and I think the Red Raiders are up for the challenge. Give me the points for my free NCAA basketball pick.