College Basketball Picks -- Duke Seeks Redemption on Road Trip to Pittsburgh

  • In Charles Jay
  • Tue, Jan 19th, 2021 12:51:22 pm
  • By Charles Jay - Exclusive to OSGA

The Pittsburgh Panthers will be underdogs at the Peterson Events Center as they take on the Duke Blue Devils, who are smarting after having been taken out of the rankings.

Can BetAnySports customers even remember the last time the Duke Blue Devils were not a part of the Top 25 in the Associated Press college basketball rankings?

Well, it's not like it was eons ago, but to have been a ranked team every week for the last five years is pretty significant. But after losing their last game to Virginia Tech a week ago, Duke was dropped, and their record is just 5-3.

So they are trying to claw back, and one thing they can't afford to do is lose to the Pittsburgh Panthers on Tuesday night.

The game will tip off at 9 PM ET at the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh.

Duke Pitt NCAABB free pickDuke hasn't been on the floor in a week; they lost a 74-67 decision to Virginia Tech last Tuesday. A couple of the freshmen stood out, as Jeremy Roach led the way with 22 points, while DJ Steward had 14. That loss took the Blue Devils out of the rankings for the first time since February of 2016. They hit just eight out of 29 shots from three-point territory, which is significant, as we'll explain in a few minutes.

Pittsburgh just got off a home-and-home set against Syracuse, where the Panthers won both games. And they were a highly unusual pair. In the first, a 63-60 win, Syracuse made just ten field goals from two-point range and a dozen triples, and took only five free throws. The rematch wasn't quite as close, and was apparently officiated a little tighter, Pitt took 32 free throws, while Syracuse got only 22. The Orange made just three of its 22 attempts from three-point range, and Pitt scored a whopping 35 points in the final ten minutes of the 96-76 victory.

So it is safe to say that they have some momentum coming in.

At BetAnySports, where you can get reduced juice for a better deal on the odds, the Blue Devils are the favorites on the road:

Duke Blue Devils       -4
Pittsburgh Panthers +4

Over 144 points -110
Under 144 points -110

Duke's best offensive player is not a freshman, but a sophomore. Matthew Hurt is averaging 19.6 points per game, and he also has a tendency to get a little hot from beyond the arc. In fact, the 6-9 forward/center has gone 11 of 21 in triples in his last three games.

But there aren't a lot of other dead-eye long-range shooters on the Duke roster, and they don't shoot an extraordinary amount of threes either, as they constitute less than 33% of all point production.

That's probably just as well, as Pitt is extremely stingy against teams out on the perimeter. How stingy, you ask? Well, they've allowed just 25% accuracy in treys, so Duke may find itself restricted in terms of ways to score, although Pitt coach Jeff Capel, who not only played at Duke but was an assistant under Coach K, fears their offensive arsenal, remarking that "They can put up points and put up points in a hurry."

NCAA basketball betting tips Duke PittsburghIf Duke can get frosh Jalen Johnson going, it might help them do just that. The 6-9 forward has come back from a foot injury, but was only in shape to play a few minutes against Virginia Tech. But he's now had a week to get back up to speed.

Duke has at least a few players to worry about in the Pitt lineup. One of them is point guard Xavier Johnson, who had 23 points, six rebounds and seven assists last time out against the 'Cuse, with a spotless 13-for-13 from the line. Another is Au'Diese Toney, who averages 15.9 points and is a good offensive rebounder.

And then there is 6-6 Justin Champagnie, who missed two games with an injury, then came back and dominated Syracuse to the tune of 24 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks. He is the second-leading scorer in the ACC (behind Hurt) and has 66 rebounds in his last four games.

We can't tell you that Duke has a presence like that. And the Panthers have some flexibility on defense, as they can guard multiple positions. There's no reason they couldn't win this game at the friendly Peterson Center - they can certainly cover.

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