NCAA Tournament Picks: Lock Popular Duke +3 vs. Oregon In Sweet 16

Jason Lake

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 1:36 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2016 1:36 PM UTC

The No.1 Oregon Ducks are laying three points to the No.4 Duke Blue Devils this Thursday in the Sweet 16. Those NCAA Tournament odds might be a touch too generous.

Who wants to bet on Duke this Thursday? Anyone? Okay, maybe the No.4 Duke Blue Devils aren't the most popular team in college hoops. But they did make the Sweet Sixteen, and they did pay out for us last week, beating the No.12 Yale Bulldogs 71-64 as 6-point favorites. In a West Region where each of the top four seeds made it to Anaheim, Duke was the only team that beat the spread in the second round.

That includes the No.1 seed in the West, the Oregon Ducks. They were down seven points to the No.8 Saint Joseph's Hawks (+7) with under five minutes remaining, before catching fire and winning 69-64 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen – where they'll face Duke on Thursday (10:07 p.m. ET, TBS). The Ducks are 3-point favorites on our NCAA Tournament odds board with a total of 156.5.


Oh Dean~!
That close shave against St. Joe's hasn't stopped bettors from unloading on Oregon. Our consensus reports show 59 percent of bettors laying wood on the Ducks, pushing the spread from –2 at the open. Is this the right play? Check the odds lines for the game before you make up your mind and let's bring in our favorite projectionists to help out, with a special guest visit from the Worldwide Leader:

FiveThirtyEight (Elo): Oregon –2.5 to –3
Sports-Reference (SRS): Duke –1.77
ESPN (BPI): Duke –1 to –1.5

Was ist los? We've got the usual difference in valuation between FiveThirtyEight and S-R, but instead of defaulting to Nate Silver's crew, I figured we'd give ESPN's Basketball Power Index a say, and they seem to be mostly in line with the Simple Rating System. So what the heck is BPI? Is it legit? Dean Oliver's behind it, so that's about as close to a “yes” as you can get with freely available advanced stats. Hmmmmm.


Duck Duck Duke
Even if we give FiveThirtyEight's projections the benefit of the doubt, the betting market has already vacuumed up whatever profit margin there might have been on the Ducks (30-6 SU, 20-13 ATS). This is the weakest of the four No.1 seeds, sitting at No.12 (No.11 offense, No.43 defense) on Ken Pomeroy's efficiency charts, just seven spots ahead of Duke (No.4 offense, No.108 defense).

The Blue Devils (25-10 SU, 14-18-2 ATS) are supposed to be having a down year after winning the National Championship, and it has been a bit of a rough go without senior forward and team captain Amile Jefferson (26.3 PER, +10.4 BPM), who played just nine games before breaking his foot. But with the lines moving the way they have, and with M. Oliver on the scene, we're leaning toward Duke for your NCAA Tournament pick.

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Free NCAA Tournament Pick: Duke +3 (-104)
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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