#5 Duke Blue Devils (17-2, 4-2) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (10-9, 3-4)
Duke vindicates itself after a blowout loss to Miami (FL) with an 84-64 defeat of the Maryland Terrapins. Resilience is an important quality to have, and that’s what Duke showed as freshman, Rasheed Sulaimon, poured in a career high 25 points while Mason Plumlee put the exclamation point on the game with a posterized reverse dunk. This is the way that Duke responds to a loss. However, the Blue Devils have yet to win on the road in their ACC inter-conference battles this season and that’s a reason for concern.
The Blue Devils have made up for the loss of Ryan Kelly with Amile Jefferson and it’s been just enough. Jefferson is coming off of an 11 point, 9 rebound effort in 24 minutes against the Terps. For the game, Duke only had 5 points off of the bench. Can Wake Forest capitalize off of Duke’s lack of depth?
Read another capper's NCAA Basketball picks for Duke vs. Wake Forest.
A shot at the NCAA Tournament is really a longshot for the Demon Deacons, but a win against Duke would keep them in the equation. Wake Forest already possesses a victory over N.C. State at home earlier this season which means that this team is capable of anything if they play a perfect game.
Forwards, Travis McKie and Devin Thomas will need to stop Mason Plumlee from any 2nd opportunities and control the boards overall. While Wake Forest depends on McKie for its offense and leadership, they depend on the freshman Thomas for his defense. Thomas is coming off of back to back games in which he picked up 13 and 14 rebounds respectively while averaging 4.5 blocks. This young man is turnover-prone and he needs to keep that to a minimum or Duke will capitalize endlessly.
Duke is a heavy 13 point favorite, but I think that this is a statement game on the road.
Pick – Duke -13 at 5 Dimes
DePaul Blue Demons (10-9, 1-5) at St. John’s Red Storm (13-7, 5-3)
St. John’s is on a roll. They’ve won 4 consecutive games and possess wins over top 20 teams, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. With the schedule looking gruesome down the road, the Red Storm must capitalize at Carnasecca Hall against an inferior squad such as Depaul.
Big East Player of the Year?
D’Angelo Harrison has sure been a reliable source of offense for the Red Storm. He’s averaging nearly 20 points per game and has been playing well as of late. Harrison is coming off of back to back 20 plus point performances against Rutgers and a very solid Seton Hall squad. He seems to feed off of the weaker teams and that’s relevant in this game. Look for Harrison to play big at home.
Freshman, Jakarr Sampson, is playing like a much more experienced player than his 1st year status indicates. Sampson is St. John’s best rebounder and is averaging 20 points in his last 2 games. He could possibly be the 1st or 2nd option in this game.
No Momentum Whatsoever
DePaul is coming into this game, a defeated team. They’re coming off of an embarrassing 38 point loss to Pittsburgh and have lost 6 out of their last 7 games. The Big East Conference has destroyed the Demon Deacon’s season and a matchup with St. John’s doesn’t appear to be anything different.
Cleveland Melvin is coming off of a dreadful performance against Pittsburgh and expect him to bounce back here, but will it be enough to justify adding DePaul to our NCAA Basketball picks tonight? I think not.Pick - St. John’s -8