NCAA Basketball Picks: Kansas vs. Duke

Willie Bee

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 1:20 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 1:20 PM UTC

There are a lot of folks out there who don't like the Duke Blue Devils, and there are many who detest the Kansas Jayhawks. That will make their matchup Tuesday a tough one for the haters to decide who to root against.

Of course, once you add in Dick Vitale for commentary at the ESPN broadcast that begins around 9:30 PM (ET), after Michigan State and Kentucky conclude their match, it should peg hate meter out on the Blue Devils. 

SBR's live NCAA Basketball odds caught this one going out with Duke laying 5 points on the overnights. No total has been released yet, and I expect a 143-144 number once online sportsbooks settle on a number.


It wouldn't matter who was on the floor for the Jayhawks and Blue Devils, two of only four schools with 2000+ hardwood victories throughout history. But this matchup will have some extra hype thanks to a couple of freshmen who were among the most highly-recruited in their class. Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, expected to be the top selection in next June's NBA Draft, and Duke's Jabari Parker might be saying all the right things to the media about how they just want to be part of a winning team and have a lot to learn, but you can bet each wants to come out from this one looking like the bigger star.

Blue Devils Belt Davidson, Jayhawks Hold Off Louisiana-Monroe

The Kansas Jayhawks tipped their season last Friday with an 80-63 victory vs. the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, but the Jayhawks' 700th win at Allen Fieldhouse wasn't nearly as convincing as it was supposed to have been. KU backers were laying 26 in the tilt, and the Warhawks were within six five minutes into the second half before the Jayhawks pulled away to win by 17.

It says a lot about expectations at Kansas that head coach Bill Self is replacing all five of his starters from last year's national runner-ups, yet the Jayhawks are ranked No. 5 and No. 6 by the two conventional polls. They are big favorites on the college basketball futures odds to take down another Big 12 crown (-125), which again says a lot about a team that has five freshmen in the regular rotation.

The Jayhawks will apparently have Naadir Tharpe back for this contest after the sophomore sat out the opener due to a suspension. Tharpe and fellow soph Perry Ellis are the top returning scorers from 2012-13, combining for a little more than 11 points.

Mike Krzyzewski and Duke had a much-easier time of it vs. Davidson in a 111-77 rout to begin the season. The Blue Devils seemingly couldn't miss a shot, sinking 38-of-54 field goals, 13 of those from behind the line on 21 attempts. Four different players scored 20+, led by Parker and Rodney Hood with 22 each.

Parker and Hood are going to be a handful for every team they face, and Krzyzewski has a pretty deep bench at forward with Amile Jefferson, Josh Hairston and Alex Murphy. Keeping Quinn Cook at the point healthy is going to be the key. 

Duke Unbeaten In State Farm Champions Classic

Kansas is winless in this event, losing to both Michigan State and Kentucky the last two years, while Duke went 2-0 against the same schools. The Spartans upset KU a year ago in Atlanta, 75-68, as 3-point 'dogs; the Blue Devils covered a 4-point spread with a 75-68 dubya vs. UK. Both games went past the totals. 

Duke also owns this series with a 7-2 mark vs. Kansas. Five of those matchups have come in the NCAA Tournament, three times in the Final Four round and once in the 1991 Men's Championship, a 72-65 Blue Devils victory. The most recent get-together came in the finals of the 2011 Maui Invitational. Duke claimed its fifth Maui title with a 68-61 win, overcoming a 4-point halftime deficit to beat the NCAA odds as 5-point chalk.

Wiggins and Parker will obviously have most of the cameras on them, but I'm going to keep an eye on Kansas' Joel Embiid early on since Duke really doesn't have a body to put on him in the paint unless they get Marshall Plumlee involved and motivated.Duke minus the points is where we are looking to go with our NCAA Basketball picks in tonight's showdown. 

While you're here, make sure to check out my preview of the 1-2 battle between Kentucky and Michigan State

My pick: Duke -5
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