Duke (-4.5) vs. Notre Dame
Coming off a 15-point loss to Illinois last Tuesday, confidence in Duke basketball is the lowest Duke fans have experienced in recent memory. To add insult to injury, news came out yesterday that star player Jalen Johnson is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Even further, Duke has failed to cover the spread in each of its first four games. So how can I make the argument that you should bet on Duke to cover?
The simple answer is that everyone else thinks they won’t cover. With the widespread news of the Blue Devils' struggles, followed by the Jalen Johnson injury, a spread that would normally favor Duke by double-digit points now only predicts the team winning by a few points. Frankly, all of the problems surrounding the Blue Devils are already “baked into the cake.”
Though Duke has looked entirely unimpressive this season, their two losses are to Michigan State and Illinois, who are currently ranked No. 4 and No. 13, respectively, in the AP Top 25. Similarly, Notre Dame has two losses to ranked opponents on the season, one to Michigan State and the other to No. 20 Ohio State. With a lack of evidence that the Fighting Irish are by any means a superior team, I’ll choose to ride with what we know.
Duke still has an impressive collection of talent that, through working with all-time great head coach Mike Krzyzewski, should remain a strong contender and headliner of the ACC. It’s finally time to roll with the Blue Devils.
Pick: Duke -5 or better
Over/Under 147.5 Points
Despite offensive struggles in the early games of the season, Duke is still averaging 73.5 points per game and they seem due for a game where the offense gels. Unfortunately, in games against more competitive opponents, the Blue Devils scored just 68 and 69 points against Illinois and Michigan State, respectively. Plus, without forward Jalen Johnson in the lineup, Duke could see some more offensive regression.
Johnson’s injury also opens up a lot of minutes for the Blue Devils, some of which will likely be taken by Mark Williams and Jaemyn Brakefield, both of whom have proven to be strong defenders. Their addition to the lineup might spell lower scoring for the Fighting Irish.
Though Notre Dame scored 85 points against Ohio State in a high-scoring battle, they scored just 70 points against Michigan State and won with a 64-point showing against Kentucky this past Saturday. As much as I hate to root against points, I’m left with no choice but to recommend betting the under in tonight’s game.
Pick: Under 147.5
Matthew Hurt Over/Under 2.5 Threes
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One of few bright spots in the Duke offense this season has been sophomore forward Matthew Hurt. His shooting ability has allowed him to lead the team in points this season, and his presence on the floor demands heavy attention from the opposing defense.
Hurt’s long ball, a key part of his game, impressed in the win against Bellarmine, as he poured in six-of-eight from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, he followed that strong performance by missing all six attempted threes in his most recent game against Illinois. Look for Hurt to get his shooting back on the right track in this matchup with Notre Dame, so roll with the over on Hurt threes tonight.
Pick: Over 2.5