NCAAB Picks: Back Banged-Up Duke Over Penn State In Tip-Off Tournament

Matthew Jordan

Friday, November 18, 2016 7:18 PM UTC

Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 7:18 PM UTC

Could top-ranked Duke actually lose a second game in a row Saturday? The injury-ravaged Blue Devils face Big Ten school Penn State in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Connecticut with a 12:30 p.m. ET start. Duke is -20 on NCAA basketball odds.

Nittany Lions Short-Handed Again?

Penn State has made one NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2001-02 season and that was six years ago. The Lions finished 16-16 last year and really not much more is expected in 2016-17, although Coach Pat Chambers brought in a pretty good recruiting class for a football school.

The Nittany Lions opened with an 87-81 loss to Albany, which is annually a good mid-major program. The Lions have followed with an eight-point home win vs. Duquesne and then on Tuesday an 85-76 victory over visiting Grand Canyon. PSU's 48 first-half points were its most since 2008, and it has scored at least 80 points overall in three straight games for the first time since 2013-14. Freshman Lamar Stevens had 19 points vs. Grand Canyon, and top returning scorers Payton Banks and Shep Garner added 15 and 14 points, respectively.

PSU was short-handed against Grand Canyon. Guard Josh Reaves still hasn't played due to a lower-leg injury and you won't see him Saturday. The sophomore averaged 6.4 points and 3.7 rebounds in 23.8 minutes per game last year. Forward Davis Zemgulis sat out with concussion-like symptoms after taking an elbow against Duquesne. Guard Isaiah Washington also was out with a minor ankle injury.  With the short bench, freshman Nazeer Bostick saw his first game action of the season and had seven points and two rebounds in 17 minutes.

Penn State is 0-1 ATS on NCAA basketball odds this season. The Lions are 0-13 in their history vs. the nation's No. 1 team.


Blue Devils Will Fall In Polls

No. 1 Duke (2-1) is going to fall in the next polls as the Blue Devils lost to No. 7 Kansas in Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, 77-75. The Jayhawks' Frank Mason III hit the winning jumper with less than two seconds left. Duke's Frank Jackson got off a long 3-pointer at the buzzer but it wasn't close.

The Blue Devils were able to make it interesting after trailing by 12 with eight minutes left. Preseason All-American Grayson Allen didn't play well with 12 points on 4-for-15 from the field. Luke Kennard led Duke with 22 points. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has a one-player bench right now due to injuries and that's Jackson, who had 11 points -- he tied the game at 75 on a 3-pointer with eight seconds left. The Blue Devils were killed on the boards with just two second-chance points to KU's 18.

Duke has yet to have three of the nation's top freshmen recruits see the court as Harry Giles (knee), the No. 1 overall recruit, Marques Bolden (leg) and Jayson Tatum (foot) are all dealing with injuries. You won't see any of them in this game, with Tatum likely the first to return. Teams better beat Duke now because it's going to be awesome when fully healthy.

For a point of comparison with Penn State, Duke beat Grand Canyon 96-61 in Durham last Saturday. The Blue Devils are 1-1 ATS on NCAA basketball picks. Duke is 8-1 all-time vs. Penn State, but the schools haven't played since 1970.

NCAAB Free Pick: Duke -20Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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