NCAA Basketball Picks: UNC Wilmington Will Cover ATS Against Duke

Jason Lake

Monday, March 14, 2016 6:13 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 14, 2016 6:13 PM UTC

The Duke Blue Devils are only the No. 4 seeds in the West Region, but the basketball odds have the Devils laying double-digits to the No. 13 UNC Wilmington Seahawks.

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Jason's 2015-16 record as of Mar. 14: 18-12 ATS, 1-2 Totals

Finally, March Madness is here. It's amazing how much room the NCAA men's basketball Tournament takes up in our national consciousness these days. We're providing blanket coverage here at SBR, and it's my pleasure to be bringing you all the games from the West Region. The Selection Committee made some, shall we say, interesting decisions when it came to this year's bracket; hopefully that will inject some extra betting value into our NCAA tournament picks.

Let's tip things off with one of Thursday's most interesting first-round matchups (12:15 p.m. ET, CBS). The team everyone loves to hate, the Duke Blue Devils, are the No. 4 seeds in the West after losing in the second round of the ACC tournament. They'll be facing the champions of the CAA, the No. 13 UNC Wilmington Seahawks. Duke opened as a 9.5-point favorite on the NCAA tournament odds board before moving to –10.5 at press time. Really? With 55 percent consensus on UNCW? Interesting.


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We'll get back to that consensus in a moment. First, check out what FiveThirtyEight's been up to: They've got new Elo-based projections for every single game, which they'll update in real time. Sweet. So they've got Duke winning this game 85 percent of the time, which works out to around –10.5 for a point spread. Surprise, surprise. However, Sports-Reference values Duke (+20.06 SRS) nearly 14 points higher than UNCW (+6.36 SRS) on the Simple Rating System. Where did all those points go?

Well, for one thing, senior forward Amile Jefferson (26.2 PER, +10.6 BPM) only got in nine games this year before breaking his foot. But maybe SRS is overvaluing the Blue Devils; they rank No. 11 in Division I by that metric, but Ken Pomeroy has Duke at No. 22 overall (No. 6 offense, No. 110 defense). And of course, the Blue Devils have tailed off badly this year, dropping the cash in each of their last five games to sit at 23-10 SU and 13-17-2 ATS.


The Seahawks (25-7 SU, 15-13 ATS) have no injuries to report, but they've also had trouble bagging the cash lately at 1-4 ATS in their last five. Once again, we've got a difference of opinion between S-R, who have the 'Hawks at No. 93 overall according to SRS, and the Pomeroy charts, where UNCW sits at No. 74 (No. 74 offense, No. 105 defense).

No doubt there will be some people picking UNCW to pull off the classic 13-versus-4 upset when they fill out their March Madness bracket. We might not go that far, but this does look like a decent enough spot to fade Duke – that early 55-percent consensus on the Seahawks tells us as much, and we're happy to get as many points as the market will give us by tip-off.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: NC Wilmington +11
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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