Duke will likely tip off as an underdog for just the second time this season, as it prepares to take on Louisville and its pressing style of defense Saturday.
Duke has dropped two straight Atlantic Coast Conference games for just the first time since the 2008-09 campaign, which is important to consider when making your NCAA basketball picks, as it hits the road after suffering a 90-74 setback to Miami as 15.5-point home favorites Tuesday.
It’s important to point out that the Blue Devils have gone through losing streaks of three games or more just four times over the past 20 seasons. Freshmen Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow have started all 16 games for Coach K, with a first year player leading the squad in scoring in 12 of 16 contests. Sports bettors will find that the program is 2-6 ATS in its last eight games versus a team with a winning record.
Louisville has compiled a 15-2 SU and 4-10-2 ATS record through 17 games, which can’t be ignored when looking over the NCAA basketball odds, as its only two losses have come against nationally-ranked North Carolina and Kentucky.
Over the last four years, the Cardinals have proven victorious in 111 games—more wins than any other team in the country in that period of time. Head coach Rick Pitino’s squad ranks ninth in the country with a +4.7 turnover margin—a number that he hopes to reach in this matchup at the KFC Yum! Center and even his all-time record to 2-2 versus Duke.
College basketball handicappers will find that this group is 1-8-2 ATS in its last 11 home contests.
Man In the Middle
The Blue Devils are certainly one of the favorites to win the 2015 NCAA Tournament, as Okafor’s projected to be a No. 1 pick when he heads to the NBA, as he’s scored in double figures in 16 straight games—the fourth-longest double digit scoring streak by a freshman in school history.
His .668 field goal percentage is the highest among players nationally attempting seven or more shots per game, but he’ll have a hard time reaching that type of number versus a defense that ranks seventh in the country in limiting foes inside the arc.
Coming to Life
The Cardinals will always have the luxury of being able to fall back on their high-ranking defense, but they’ve become more balanced offensively with the emergence of Chris Jones and Terry Rozier in the backcourt.
Louisville’s dynamic duo is averaging 30.2 points on the season, with Rozier really coming to life in the last 10 games—posting a 20.5 scoring average over that span.
I’ve developed a handicapper line favoring the Cardinals by 3.5 points, which means sports bettors should lay the points if the number comes out at four or lower, while backing the underdog at a price of five or higher.