NCAA Basketball Picks: Duke vs. Virginia

Jeff Grant

Thursday, February 28, 2013 12:22 PM GMT

The Virginia Cavaliers will need to get after it defensively if they want to earn their first victory in six tries against the Duke Blue Devils under coach Tony Bennett, as the two teams meet Thursday night.


Let’s take a closer look at this Atlantic Coast Conference matchup from a betting perspective, with the opening tip from John Paul Jones Arena scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Coming off a great week

Duke won its two games against Boston College and Virginia Tech by an average of 26.5 points last week—bouncing back from a two-point loss versus Virginia on Feb. 16. 

The Blue Devils are 21-3 straight up and 15-9 against the spread (ATS) in February the last two-plus seasons, with the UNDER going 15-7 in that situation.

Covering the number recently

Virginia has won four of its last six games, including a 82-54 victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets as 10-point home favorites Sunday, while going OVER the total for the eighth time in 10 opportunities.

The Cavaliers have covered the number in five of their last six games, which has played a big part in the team’s 16-8 ATS record for the entire 2012-13 NCAA basketball season. 

Series history

Handicappers will likely have no problem adding the Blue Devils to their evening's sports picks as a pick’ em when looking over the numbers on the SBR odds page, considering they’ve won 29 of their last 32 games versus the Cavaliers. 

It’s important to note that the three setbacks in that span have come by a combined seven points, while the road team is on a 15-5-1 ATS run in this series.

Duke has won eight consecutive meetings, with seven of those coming by a double-digit margin.  Virginia has lost five of those games during the Tony Bennett era.

Curry and Harris could be limited

At first glance, it looks as if the NCAA Basketball odds makers are offering us a low total, especially when you find out that the Blue Devils have only played two road games with a number between 120 to 129.5 since 1997.

Blue Devils guard Seth Curry has scored in double figures in his last nine games, averaging 18.7 points in that span, but he’s been limited to 25 combined points in three meetings with the Cavaliers. 

Virginia leading scorer Joe Harris has been dynamite in averaging 20.9 points over the last nine games, but he’s also had very little success in this rivalry.  Harris has tallied 37 points in three contests versus the Blue Devils.

[gameodds]14/222423/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers add a play the total to their college basketball picks Thursday, as the UNDER is 4-0 in the last four meetings in Virginia.  I’m not too concerned about the number, as the last five betting totals in this series have averaged out to 130.5.

College Basketball Pick:  Under 129 at Bookmaker