NCAA Basketball Picks: Wildcats to Devour Duke in Fast-Paced Game

Charles Stark

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 4:38 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 4:38 PM UTC

NCAA basketball is back and we have one of the best matchups in the early season when the Kentucky Wildcats take on the Duke Blue Devils in Chicago. Review our free NCAA basketball picks inside.

NCAA odds
NCAA Basketball odds makers have made Kentucky a small favorite at -2.5. I like how they have defended so far, so for one of my NCAA Basketball picks, I will lay the small number with the Wildcats. Early odds are pretty decent like -2.5 at -105 at Pinnacle.


Kentucky Wildcats
In two games, Kentucky is averaging 82.5 points per game, shooting 50.4% from the field, and 28.9% from beyond the arc. They have been pretty efficient so far and John Calipari has had a couple interesting lineups to work with. They do have some strong forwards led by Skal Labissiere, but it seems like this year they're going to lean a lot on their guard play. Led by point guard Tyler Ulis and complemented by other guards getting quite a few minutes, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe. It's going to be interesting to see how Duke wants to matchup with Kentucky's hybrid dribble drive offense. I expect they're going to play a lot of man to man like usual, which is going to lead to a fast-paced game.

Defensively, Kentucky's allowing 61 points per game, 37.2% shooting from the field, and 18.2% from beyond the arc. They simply have the athletes and the depth to play very tough defense the whole game. Of course they're going to see a whole different monster in a Duke team that is extremely efficient on offense. The guard matchups are going to be especially exciting to watch, and with the way Kentucky has defended the perimeter so far, I will give them the lean.


Duke Blue Devils
Offensively, Duke comes in averaging 102.5 points per game, shooting 49.6% from the field, and 37.3% from beyond the arc. They simply do everything right on offense from setting good screens to making the extra pass. Like Kentucky, though they're running a little bit smaller this year, the Devils have started their first two games with a three guard set of Matt Jones, Grayson Allen, and Brandon Ingram. Those three are also complemented by Luke Kennard and Derryck Thorton which gives Duke five solid options around the perimeter. This game should be dominated on both ends by each teams solid perimeter players.

Defensively, Duke is allowing 74.5 points per game, 45.1% shooting from the field, and 47.6% shooting from beyond the arc. Those are some pretty poor numbers for a Mike Krzyzewski team and it leads me to believe they are work in progress on that end of the floor. In my opinion, it might be better for Duke to play zone against Kentucky, but that is pretty rare for them, and something they probably will not implement until the latter part of the season when games are more meaningful. In short, I expect both these teams to play man-to-man, with again the lean going to Kentucky.


The Pick
With both teams leaning a lot on their guards this season, I look for this matchup to be an up-and-down affair in Chicago, but overall I like how Kentucky is defending. I'm not going to put a lot of stock into who wins this game mostly, but what I do like is for Kentucky to pull away at the end and win by around seven points. For one of your NCAA Basketball picks, I recommend backing Kentucky minus the points between these two premier college programs.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Kentucky -1.5 at William Hill

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