The Blue Zone is back with our prop bets and we've got you covered with our picks for Duke's matchup with Boston College:
Duke (-11.5) vs. Boston College
The last time we saw Duke basketball in action was nearly three weeks ago, when they bounced back from a tough loss to then-No. 6 Illinois to handle Notre Dame, 75-65, easily covering the spread for the first time all season.
At this point in the season, it is best to accept that Duke’s early-season spot near the top of the rankings was a bit preemptive, at best. And just as the Blue Devils were overvalued by media voters in the early going, so have they been overvalued in Vegas—Duke failed to cover the spread in its first four games, demonstrating a systematic bias toward the Blue Devils by bookmakers and bettors everywhere.
After the Blue Devils finally covered a more manageable spread last time out, it feels as if those in the know are beginning to make the proper adjustments, the first step toward truthfully pinning down Duke’s worth. Saturday night’s canceled bout at Florida State cast the Blue Devils as underdogs for the first time all season, showing just how sizeable an adjustment has been made.
Even so, I was prepared to side with the Seminoles, a pick fueled far more by my admiration for Leonard Hamilton’s squad than my doubts about this Duke team’s value, altered or not. In truth, I think the question here is whether the Blue Devils are actually undervalued here. After all, they are coming off a long layoff without their head coach, have struggled against the spread all season and have seen this line shift slightly in Boston College’s favor since opening.
These factors are all baked into the point spread, and Boston College is a team that has been humiliated on more than one occasion this winter. While they garnered some praise after hanging with Villanova for the better part of forty minutes in the opener, the Eagles have lost six of their last seven after being embarrassed by the likes of Syracuse, Florida and Louisville. Their only win over that stretch came against the 1-4 Maine Black Bears, but Boston College still failed to cover the spread.
All signs point towards Duke being able to handle a lesser Boston College team with ease, and you can count on the Blue Devils to be motivated by any and all slander they have endured over the break to play hard until the very end. Take Duke, points and all, without hesitation.
Pick: Duke -11.5
Over/Under 150.0 Points
For as much trouble as the Blue Devils have had surpassing totals thus far — just one of their five games has done so — Boston College, put quite simply, does not really play defense.
The Eagles stay in games by virtue of their scoring, which has led them to cash the over in six of their last seven, most of which have sailed past the total with time to spare. While Duke’s defense will provide a formidable challenge for top scorers Wynston Tabbs and Jay Heath, the long layover combined with the absence of Krzyzewski lends itself to the notion that the Blue Devils will, in all likelihood, look a little lost at points on the defensive end.
Despite the circumstances, Duke’s will have a much easier time on the offensive end behind its multitude of scorers. Matthew Hurt torched the Eagles for a career-high last season, and the freshmen backcourt duo appears to be finding its footing on offense rather quickly. This is a strong play, especially if you like the Blue Devils to cover the spread. If so, then back the home team to put enough points up to catapult this total into oblivion.
Pick: Over 150.0
Duke to win ACC +425
I know, this is not a great value play for a future bet. But as I have now driven home a few too many times, Duke’s value appears to be at an all-time low, with their ACC title odds now nearly double their preseason figure. Invest a small amount in this Blue Devil team to turn it around and go the distance before these odds go flying in the wrong direction.
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Jonathan Levitan is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.