NCAAB Odds: Sans Grayson Allen, Duke Will Cover At Hokies

grayson allen duke

Matthew Jordan

Friday, December 30, 2016 7:39 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 7:39 PM UTC

One would think that the NCAA would prefer that no college basketball games be played Saturday opposite the College Football Playoff semifinals. But it's a busy day of hoops action and No. 5 Duke opens ACC play with a noon ET start at Virginia Tech.

Blue Devils Begin Play Without Allen      

No. 5 Duke (12-1) remains the +400 favorite at BetOnline to win the national championship and is the heavy favorite to win the ACC. The Blue Devils brought in the nation's top-rated recruiting class this year and returned plenty of talent from the 2015-16 team even after losing star freshman Brandon Ingram, who went No. 2 in the NBA Draft to the L.A. Lakers.

The top returnee was All-American guard Grayson Allen, who thought about going pro after averaging a team-best 21.6 points last year. However, most people who don't follow Duke or college basketball intently may only know of Allen because he was caught intentionally tripping players twice in games last year. Duke never suspended him, but the ACC reprimanded Allen.

Well, Allen won't be on the court Saturday in Blacksburg as he was suspended indefinitely by Coach Mike Krzyzewski after intentionally tripping an Elon player in Duke's last game  on Dec. 21, a surprisingly close 72-61 Blue Devils victory. Allen clearly is mentally troubled or something because he could be seen on the TV cameras throwing some sort of temper tantrum on the bench after the play. Coach K made the call to suspend him the next day. How long that suspension lasts, only Coach K knows. Allen is down to 16.0 points per game this year, but since the start of last season his average of 20.2 ppg is the highest of any major conference player. So he will be missed.

We haven't come close to seeing Duke at its potential yet because the Blue Devils' three five-star freshmen big men, Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden, have barely played together due to injuries. Giles, considered the No. 1 recruit in the nation, has played just two games and only 10 total minutes. Bolden and Tatum have played in five games.

Duke actually hasn't looked all that great at times out of conference. Every win has been by at least nine points, but the Blue Devils should beat teams like Tennessee State by more than 10 or Elon more than 11.  The Blue Devils are 6-6 ATS on college basketball odds.


Hokies Haven't Played Anyone

Virginia Tech (11-1) was picked to finish 10th in the ACC in the preseason poll off the Hokies' 20-15 overall record last season and 10-8 mark in the conference. The program hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2006-07 (made NIT last season), but third-year coach Buzz Williams appears to have things pointed in the right direction.

Before you get too excited about the Hokies' non-conference record, take a look at the schedule. They haven't beaten any of the teams currently receiving votes in either the AP or the USA Today Top 25. The loss was by three to Texas A&M in a Thanksgiving holiday tournament outside Los Angeles. The best win likely was Nov. 30 at Michigan.

While Duke could be a bit rusty with a 10-day layoff, Virginia Tech played on Wednesday and beat Maryland-Baltimore County 87-70 behind 18 points from Ahmed Hill and 17 from Seth Allen.  Zach LeDay leads the team in scoring at 16.5 ppg and is second in rebounding (7.5 rpg). Guard Chris Clarke enters having three straight double-doubles (including one triple-double) and averages 10.8 points and 8.1 rebounds. The Hokies have scored at least 80 points in eight games this season and are Top 30 nationally at 83.8 ppg. They are 5-3 ATS on college basketball picks.

Last season, Virginia Tech played Duke once and it was at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils, ranked 14th, won 82-58. The game was over at halftime with Duke up 50-23. The Hokies were 8-for-29 shooting in the first half.

NCAAB Free Pick: Duke -5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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