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Prop bets for Duke men's basketball vs. No. 6 Illinois

Jalen Johnson looks to return to stardom tonight and guide his team to a 3-1 record.
Jalen Johnson looks to return to stardom tonight and guide his team to a 3-1 record.

The Blue Zone provides you with our prop bet picks for every men's basketball game this season. In this top-10 matchup with Illinois, anything can happen.

Duke (-3.5) vs. Illinois

Look, this is going to be a tough line for Duke to cover. Illinois is No. 6 in the nation for a good reason, and they’ll be coming to Durham off the backs of a tough loss to No. 2 Baylor, in which their defense seemingly didn’t come out of the locker room after halftime— the Fighting Illini gave up 51 points in the final 20 minutes of play, dropping the contest by 13 after finishing up the first half down only one. This team, led by the 23.8 points per game of junior guard Ayo Dosunmu, will not want to drop their second matchup in a row.

That being said, Duke also comes into the gym Tuesday night with a chip on their shoulder, having been bested by No. 4 Michigan State last Tuesday. Matthew Hurt was the only Blue Devil to score at a meaningful clip against the Spartans, with the rest of the offense putting up bricks for a good portion of the game. Sophomore Wendell Moore Jr. went 0-of-9 from the field including six missed threes. 

But Michigan State seems to be a better squad than Illinois, at least out of the gate. And barring another night where Moore shoots zero percent from the field, Duke should find a way to cover at home.

Pick: Duke -3.5

Over/Under 146.5 Total Points

I’ll be honest— even if I believed in it, I couldn’t in good faith tell you that the under is a good bet in this contest. Even if you win, you root against points for the entire game. That’s no way to watch college basketball.

Here’s why this game is going over: After the tough defensive task posed by Michigan State, the Blue Devils got the chance to play Bellarmine, in what was the Knights' first game in Division I college hoops. While they certainly left some points on the table, Duke got the chance to fine-tune their half court game against a weaker team. They’ll take that knowledge and feel into tonight’s matchup, where Hurt will continue to shine from three and Jalen Johnson will have a bounce-back game after the breather he took last contest.

Also, Dosunmu is hitting threes at a 47.1 percent rate to start the season. That’ll help.

Pick: Over 146.5 total points

Will the game go to Overtime? Yes +800, No -2000

This one is akin to betting the coin toss in football— you have absolutely no way of knowing which face is going to land up. The odds are a guess. But if you’re feeling adventurous, take the great value here knowing that this game is going to be tight.

I’m either going to be lauded as a genius tomorrow if it happens, or shamed if it doesn’t. But here’s the thing: there’s a lot of value in +800, on a game that could very well go to overtime. These teams on paper look like a tie ballgame, with the spread not going much beyond one possession.

Don’t put the house on it, but if you have a couple extra bucks floating around after a great weekend betting the NFL, root for some free basketball when the clock nears midnight.

Pick: Yes +800

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