It’s finally here—Duke’s highly-anticipated matchup with No. 1 Gonzaga. And for some of you, two of the top college basketball teams in the country battling it out is enough to warrant your attention for a few of your precious Friday night hours. But others may need an added incentive, and that’s where the Blue Zone comes in with some can’t-miss prop bets:
Duke (+9) vs. Gonzaga
Look, I get it. The Bulldogs rolled through preseason No. 5 Texas by 12, and then No. 2 UCLA by an easy 20, so I’m not entirely surprised the Blue Devils enter this one as an nine-point underdog.
I just happen to think it’s free money.
You see, Duke’s been looking forward to this game for a while. As the Blue Devils limped through last season, Gonzaga marched its way toward becoming the “hallmark college basketball program.” I highly doubt that phrase sits well in Mike Krzyzewski’s stomach, so if there’s one regular season win he’s going to want this year (maybe outside the finale against North Carolina) it’s this one. And with a nice three-day break since Duke’s last contest, he’ll have his team ready.
Furthermore, as our Max Rego has already perfectly illustrated, the Blue Devils are simply a much tougher matchup for the Bulldogs than the Bruins and Longhorns. Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren have looked dominant so far, but they haven’t had to face off against the likes of Paolo Banchero, Mark Williams and Theo John, both on the offensive and defensive end. I mean, tell me—who on Gonzaga is stopping Banchero with a full head of steam?
In the end, the outcome of this game may very well be determined by whether Duke can hit its open threes. If they can, the Blue Devils may go into conference play undefeated. If not, you can probably chalk the win to the Bulldogs.
But we’re not talking about who’s going to win in this blog; we’re talking about a nine-point spread. And in that case, I say Duke’s a lock.
Pick: Duke +9
Over/Under 154 points
Nobody hates unders more than me. But I have to think about the readers when writing this blog, so I can’t just roll with what my heart tells me. I have to think logically.
And logic says the under’s going to hit tonight.
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In a game as hyped up as this one, I fully expect nerves to take over in the opening minutes. We’ll probably see some turnovers, some ill-advised shots and overall just ugly basketball for the first portion of the opening half.
Even once both teams settle down, I’m just envisioning this becoming a physical, defensive-first contest. I can promise you Williams and Banchero will not let Timme and Holmgren bully their way in the paint like Texas and UCLA did, and I can promise you whoever guards Andrew Nembhard will not let him look like the best point guard in the country.
In the end, this game will come down to who wants it more. And in games like that, defense wins out, and the under hits. You may hate it during the game, but you’ll thank me later.
Pick: Under 154 points
Largest lead in game over/under 16.5 points
There really isn’t much to say about this one. This game isn’t going to be the blowout that Gonzaga-UCLA or Gonzaga-Texas was, for much of the same reasons I’ve talked about above. Nobody’s going to be pushing a 20-point lead.
Obviously, the books expect Gonzaga to be the one pushing that lead, and if I’m going to be honest, that’s borderline disrespectful to the Blue Devils. So if you’re a Duke fan, the best way to defend your honor is to make the books pay.
Pick: Under 16.5 points