College Basketball - Clemson Tigers at Duke Blue Devils (-6.5, 131) 7:00 PM EST
The old expression “Many are called but few are chosen” applies to tonight’s ACC match-up involving a couple of ranked teams. Seventeenth ranked Clemson started the season by tying a school record with 17-0 start before faltering in the past two weeks.
Tenth ranked Duke, in spite of an impressive record, got off to rocky start in the conference play with a pair of losses and has rebounded with three straight wins, creating a new defensive identity. The winner of tonight’s conflict places itself right behind the leaders of the ACC with the confidence to move forward and compete.
Clemson could be forgiven for losing at Maryland as unbeaten team; however the horrific beating by 22 points at home to North Carolina once again raised serious doubts about this team’s ability to play against the better ACC teams. Coach Oliver Purnell sensing his team was feeling a little too sorry for itself worked the Tigers like dogs before Boston College contest. The hard work paid off as Clemson took out its frustrations on depleted Eagles and routed them 74-54. The biggest concern for Clemson is getting back on defense. The pressing style has left them too vulnerable once the opposition crosses midcourt and is the reason why they have allowed 50 percent or better shooting in the five straight games.
Listening to the media and watching Duke play, it is obvious this is not your vintage Blue Devils team. Despite all the nay-sayers talking Duke down, the Blue Devils are one of the more profitable teams in college basketball with 11-6-1 ATS record. The very thought of Duke not be over-rated is almost preposterous.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski made changes after losing first two ACC games for the first time in 11 years. He started by shortening the bench and relying on mostly a seven-man rotation for the bulk of the playing time, with other subs seeing just a couple minutes in last three wins and covers. With offensive limitations, Krzyzewski has leaned on the defense to carry the load. Though being last in scoring in the conference at 69.5 points a game, the Blue Devils have been demons on defense, being the toughest team to score on in the league, holding the opposition to 38.8% shooting.
The opening number at sportsbook.com has Duke as a 7-point home favorite. Duke is 24-9 ATS at Cameron Indoor after 2 straight wins by 15 points or more, while the Tigers have often played like they have been declawed after a home win against a conference rivals with 10-22 ATS record.
This is unusual spot for Duke who is 0-7 ATS as a home favorite of 6.5 to 9 points over the last decade. Nevertheless, playing at home Duke is more equipped to control the tempo of the game to slow down Clemson. Dicky V’s favorite, the Dukies are 7-4 ATS at home holding opponents to 36.4% and even more minuscule 24.6% from the three point line, third best in the country. The Tigers 7-1 and 6-2 ATS record should not be overlooked, yet weak transition defense is an issue that Duke figures to exploit enough for easy baskets.
With this ACC contest ready to tip at 7 Eastern, hidden numbers could also be important. Clemson shoots just 57.8% from the charity stripe and those lost points add up in a game like this.
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