Before placing your NCAA Basketball Pick here, keep in mind Duke is trying to lock down a No. 1 seed for the Big Dance, while Wake Forest, for the moment, remains a work in progress.
Deacons-Devils Betting Odds
Most shops we surveyed opened Duke at -18.5 for tonight, with a total of 149. In the early betting the spread was holding steady, while the NCAA Basketball odds total moved to 150.
Those believing in minor miracles could get Wake Forest at +2150 on the moneyline at Heritage.
Deacons-Devils: Duel in Durham
Duke has won nine games in a row, after taking care of business against Syracuse Saturday 73-54. The Blue Devils, favored by 12 points, led by nine at the half, grabbed the lead against the spread about halfway through the second half and held on from there.
The Dukies shot 48 percent from the floor Saturday, but also hit just nine of 16 free-throws and turned the ball over 17 times. Fortunately for those who bet Duke the Orange kinda stink at the moment.
Last Wednesday Duke got very fortunate to beat Virginia Tech in overtime 91-86, and came up far short of the spread at -15. In fact, the Blue Devils have alternated wins and losses ATS for their last 11 games.
Big-picture, at 26-3 overall, 13-3 in conference play Duke will extend its string of NCAA tournament appearances to 20 in a row (as people forming NCAA Tournament Brackets know), and still has a shot at a No. 1 seed. The Blue Devils have also already secured a double-bye for next week's ACC tournament.
Wake Forest, meanwhile, just snapped a three-game losing streak with a 69-66 upset of Pitt Sunday. The Deacons led that game throughout, and for the night shot 47 percent from the field, including 9-of-20 from 3-point range, while committing just six turnovers.
That performance was a welcome reversal from last Wednesday's 70-34 loss to Virginia.
The Deacons are now 9-6 ATS in ACC play, which indicates to us they might be slightly underrated by the betting market.
At 13-16 overall, 5-11 in ACC play Wake Forest is trying to build for the future under first-year head coach Danny Manning.
By the Numbers
Wake is shooting just 42 percent from the field this season, just 34 percent on 3-pointers and 64 percent from the FT line. At the other end of the floor the Deacons are allowing opponents to shoot 44 percent.
Duke is shooting 50 percent from the floor, which ranks third-best in the nation, while holding opponents to just under 43 percent shooting.
The Recent Rivalry
Duke is 9-1 SU over the last 10 games in this series, but Wake Forest is 6-4 ATS during that span. The Blue Devils took the first meeting this season between the teams back in January 73-65, but the Deacons covered that game as 15-point home dogs. In fact, Wake almost caught the Dukies napping, grabbing a two-point lead with five minutes to go, before the Blue Devils ended the game with an 18-8 run.
The Deacons shot 46 percent from the floor that night, but hit only two of 13 shots from 3-point land, while Duke shot 8-for-18 from long range.
That game played UNDER its total of 145.
Wake is trending toward the OVERS this season by a 15-7 margin, as Deacons games have averaged 140 points.
Duke is 17-10 on the OVERS, as Blue Devils games have averaged 146 points.
Duke is only 7-7 ATS at home this season.
Duke C Jahlil Okafor (18 points, 10 boards PG) and Quinn Cook (16 PPG) are both dealing with sore ankles, and while they'll play tonight, one wonders if Coach K might pull them once the Dukies put this game in the bag. And that could have an affect on who covers tonight's spread.
Deacons-Devils Free Pick
We've got a pretty good idea of who's going to win this game, but that's a considerable spread Duke is facing tonight. Also, Wake is 3-3 ATS in ACC road games this season, but easily could be 5-1 against those numbers, just missing covers at Florida State (at +4) and at Notre Dame (at +12). And we think Coach Manning has this program headed in the right direction. So we'll take the dog and the points in this spot.
Free College Basketball Pick: Wake Forest +17.5 at Pinnacle