#6 Duke (22-3, 9-3) at Virginia Tech (11-14, 2-10)
Duke will be out for blood. Although they play much better at Cameron Indoor Stadium, they bounce back well from losses and after an 83-81 loss to Maryland; the Blue Devils see the ACC regular season lead slipping away to the Miami (FL) Hurricanes.
Not only that, the Hurricanes are dominating the ACC and this is a team that Duke will possibly see in the ACC Tournament and beyond. The bottom line is like most teams, Duke doesn’t like to be embarrassed.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski displays major class in blowouts, but to get the Blue Devils confidence back, you may see him run up the score here while keeping the starters in the game longer.
Slowing Down a Bit?
Although he’s still averaging big-time numbers and plays a pivotal role in Duke’s offense, we may be seeing a few chinks in Mason Plumlee’s armour.
Plumlee is coming off of a 4 point effort in a loss to Maryland and had an 8 point performance against Florida State earlier in the month. I give him a pass for the Florida State game as other players were having exceptional games, but could it be possible that Mason Plumlee is getting tired from the grind of the schedule?
Viriginia Tech is a weak opponent and we might see a lot more of Seth Curry and Quinn Cook in this game.
The ACC Blues
The Virginia Tech Hokies have lost 8 straight games and they have the rest of the ACC to thank for it. That said, they were very competitive in their last game, a 90-86 loss to N.C. State in overtime, on the road. If they play like that against Duke, they might not win the game, but they’ll surely cover the 13 point spread at home.
The Hokies may not have a .500 record, but they possess one of the best players in college basketball in guard, Erick Green . Green is averaging 25.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game this season. Green put up 29 points on N.C. State on Saturday and I don’t expect the Duke defense to completely stop him.
Duke is by far the superior team when Plumlee plays well. Look for a bounce back performance from the senior as Duke destroys VA Tech.
NCAAB Picks : Duke -13 at 5 Dimes
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Penn State (8-17, 0-13) at Illinois (19-8, 6-7)
Look for Illinois to be motivated in this game as they strive to reach the .500 mark in inter-conference play. The NCAA voting committee frowns upon teams with a losing record in their conference and the Fighting Illini has Penn State on their schedule at the right time.
Good, But Not Good Enough
The Nittany Lions have been a flat-out disgrace this season, but losing to Michigan in their last game by just 8 points is a moral victory. As a 16 point underdog in this game, Penn State has no chance to win, but can only seek another “moral victory” at Assembly Hall.
Penn State is shooting just 38.6 % from the field and averages 61.2 points per game, but disallowed Trey Burke and Michigan to have a double-digit lead in their game. Are they up for the task as spoiler against Illinois?
With victories over top 25 teams like Indiana and Minnesota and 20 plus point blowouts of Northwestern and Purdue, Illinois is getting hot at the right time. That said, leading scorer, Brandon Paul need’s to get his game together before tournament time.
Cold as Ice
As the song goes, “You’re as Cold as Ice” and that pertains to Paul, who is averaging a mere 8 points on 6 of 22 shooting from the field in his last 3 games. This hasn’t been a problem for the Fighting Illini because they were playing sub .500 teams such as Northwestern and Purdue, but Illinois needs his offense and senior leadership desperately.
I don’t expect Penn State to have back to back solid performances. Illinois played well without Paul’s production and they should blow Penn State out of the building.
NCAAB Picks: Illinois -16 at 5 Dimes