NCAA Basketball Picks: Alabama vs. Duke

Joe Freda

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 1:30 PM GMT

Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 1:30 PM GMT

The Duke Blue Devils came away with a 91-90 victory in Sunday’s duel with the Vermont Catamounts, avoiding an upset as 26 ½-point home favorites. Mike Krzyzewski’s troops now head to Madison Square Garden for Wednesday’s NIT Tip-Off semifinals against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Blue Devils survive at home

The Duke Blue Devils found themselves in a tough fight down the stretch in Sunday’s affair, with the matchup tied on five different occasions through the final eight minutes. Blue Devils forward Rodney Hood connected a clutch free throw with five seconds remaining, giving his squad its final go-ahead.

Blue Devils' freshman Jabari Parker and Quinn Cook united for 40 points, connecting field buckets at a combined clip of 15-for-24. Parker added nine boards to lead his squad in outrebounding the Catamounts, 29-24, while Cook logged eight of his side’s 16 assists.

The Blue Devils allowed Vermont to notch a scorching 64.8 percent night from the floor, with the matchup’s 181 points soaring OVER the ‘total’ of 152 ½. Hood drained 3-of-5 shots beyond the arc, while finishing with 22 points in 38 minutes of action. 

Tide holds off Georgia State 

Alabama has been idle since last Tuesday’s 75-58 victory over the Georgia State Panthers, cashing as a seven-point home favorite. The Crimson Tide pulled away in the second half by a 37-28 margin, while hitting 19-of-25 free throws.

Tide guard Trevor Releford put up 19 points, while logging three steals and two assists. The senior’s backcourt mate Retin Obasohan recorded three blocks en route to 18 points, knocking down 6-of-11 floor shots.

The contest’s combined 133 points plunged below the ‘total’ of 145, moving the UNDER to 2-1 in Alabama’s three ‘board’ battles. Tide forward Shannon Hale grabbed a season-high seven boards, while Anthony Grant’s squad held the Panthers to 40 percent field shooting.

[gameodds]14/250801/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Back the Blue Devils as ‘chalk’ 

NCAA Basketball odds opened Duke as a 7 ½-point favorite, with early wagers on the Blue Devils lifting the number a ‘hook’ to eight at many sportsbooks. The matchup’s winning team will face either the Arizona Wildcats or Drexel Dragons in Friday’s final, with the loser remaining in town for a consolation duel. 

I am laying the points with Duke, adding “Coach K” and Co. to Wednesday’s card of NCAA Basketball picks

Duke had the feel of a marquee neutral-site affair in this month’s Champions Classic against the Kansas Jayhawks, looking for redemption here after that setback’s 94-83 defeat. Jabari Parker (23 PPG) and Rodney Hood (21.8 PPG) rank in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top three for scoring, while Quinn Cook leads his rivals in assists (7.2 APG). 

Alabama has been cashing tickets, but takes a hefty step up in class with its first spot as an underdog. The Crimson Tide failed to collect in their sole battle away from home, dropping an 82-73 contest to the Oklahoma Sooners.

Duke has found the rims at a sizable 45.2 percent from three-point land, while looking to run it up after a surprisingly close scare with Vermont. Look for the Blue Devils to pull away en route to a cashed ticket, heading into Friday’s final with some steam.

NCAA Basketball Pick:  Duke Blue Devils -8 at The Greek

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