No. 9 Duke men's basketball looks to reload following a devastating loss to now-No. 3 Arizona. As the team travels to Chicago for the Champions Classic and a matchup against No. 18 Michigan State, the Blue Zone brings some can’t-miss prop bets:
Duke (-2.5) vs Michigan State
There is no doubt that a competitive game will be played in Chicago’s United Center Tuesday evening. The Blue Devils and the Spartans each field rosters featuring a winning recipe of talented returners and high-impact recruits. Though both programs may have suffered an early season hit, these teams still have as high of a ceiling as any in the nation. Pair this potential with Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo’s proven ability to show out in big games, and expect a gritty contest that can really swing either way.
The Spartans’ ability to hang in the game will be predominantly reliant on their shooting beyond the arc. Arizona overcame Duke’s lockdown perimeter defense with a dominant interior game propelled by 7-foot center Oumar Ballo. Lacking such a roster piece, Izzo will need to find a way to tap into the on-paper shooting potential of his guards. Thus far, however, the deep ball has not been falling for Michigan State. A rough 1-of-20 outing for the team was the focal point of its 79-76 loss to James Madison. Against Southern Indiana, volume was reduced as the shots still failed to go with the team getting only 1-of-11 three-point attempts to drop. A complete turnaround in this team’s shooting ability — led by a guard core of Tyson Walker, A.J. Hoggard and Jaden Akins — will be essential if the Spartans hope to keep this game close.
On the Blue Devils’ end, the keys will be clean defense and improved rebounding. The Spartans excel at reaching the line, with 65 free throw attempts on the season compared to just 24 from Duke. Drawing fouls on the drive would compensate for Michigan State’s poor three-point shooting and give the Spartans a much-needed boost on offense. On the rebounding end, the Blue Devils gave up 15 offensive rebounds to the Wildcats Friday on their way to getting outrebounded by a margin of 12. Limiting these second chances while earning some of its own is how Duke can pull away from Michigan State Tuesday.
Pick: Duke (-2.5)
Over/Under 142.5 points
Early scoring performances for both of these teams can be deceptive this early in the season. The Spartans and the Blue Devils both field lineups that can play at a fast pace and push in transition, lending themselves to high-scoring outings.
Michigan State’s offense has stalled in early contests due to the aforementioned issues from deep; however, these shooting struggles lack any fundamental basis. The Spartans can very well take this matchup to break past unusually poor efficiency and put on a performance consistent with preseason expectations for the talented guards on the roster. Duke can make similar strides, as head coach Jon Scheyer continues to tinker with the rotation and star sophomore point guard Tyrese Proctor kicks the offense back into gear. Once these kinks on both sides of the court are ironed out, Tuesday’s Champions Classic matchup could be defined by high-powered offense.
Pick: Over 142.5
Kyle Filipowski Over/Under 8.5 rebounds
Despite an initial slow start on the glass for sophomore center Kyle Filipowski, the reigning ACC Freshman of the Year has all the tools to pull off the over in this coming contest.
Following a game in which the Blue Devils collectively struggled to grab boards, there is no doubt Scheyer hammered into the team the importance of putting in greater effort on the glass. This mentality shift, combined with the arthroscopic procedure on his hips over the summer that improved Filipowski’s athleticism, indicates that the preseason All-American is due for a double-double. While facing a Michigan State lineup that is smaller than Arizona’s, an uptick in Filipowski’s rebounding contribution compared to his opening performances is very likely.
Pick: Over 8.5
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