We’ll be examining Saturday’s “Final Four” contest between Michigan State and Duke. Our betting preview article covers the important handicapping aspects pertaining to this game, and culminates with a selection on the total.
Spartans seek atonement for early season loss to Blue Devils
The NCAA Tournament Odds at 5Dimes currently has Duke as a 5.5 point favorite, and the posted total at 138.0. These teams met earlier this season (11/18/2014) on a neutral floor in the Champions Classic, and Duke prevailed by a score of 81-71. The Blue Devils covered that contest as an 8.0 point favorite, and the game went over the total of 144.0. As a matter of fact, these storied college basketball programs have met in four of the last five seasons, and on each of those occasions Duke prevailed.
Premier Head Coaching Matchup
This will be the seventh “Final Four” appearance for Michigan State since 1999, and each time they were led by current head coach Tom Izzo. The Spartans and Izzo captured the national championship in the 2000. Under the guidance of Izzo, Michigan State has gone a stellar 13-9 in the NCAA Tournament when facing a higher seed similar to today.
Duke’s head coach Mike Krzyzewski is taking the Blue Devils to their twelfth “Final Four” since he took over the head coaching reigns in Durham. During that time, Duke has won four national championships, and has been in the NCAA Tournament Final on eight separate occasions.
Both Teams adept at converting the Three-Pointer
The Michigan State Spartans have been successful on a stellar 38.6% of their three-point attempts this season. The Duke Blue Devils have converted on an even better 39% of their long distance attempts. The teams have combined to average fifteen three-point makes per game this season.
Free Throw Shooting
What’s been a major flaw for Michigan State this season has occurred at the free throw line. The Spartans are converting on a terrible 63.2% of their attempts for the year. They’ve also allowed their previous five opponents twenty-three free throw attempts per contest, and that’s four more than their season average.
The Duke Blue Devils are averaging a relatively high twenty-two free throw attempts per game, and are converting on 69.5% of those tries. However, that number has shrunk to fifteen attempts per game during their previous five contests.
Although Duke has gone under the total in each of their last six games, they’re still a team which averages a robust 79.5 points per game, and are shooting 50.2% from the field. Michigan State has gone over the total in eight of their previous eleven games. I like this contest to play on the high side, and that will be one be one of my NCAA Tournament picks on Saturday.
NCAA Tournament Pick: Michigan State and Duke to go over the total of 138.0 at 5Dimes.