Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#843 Duke vs.
#844 Gonzaga
Friday, November 26, 2021 at 10:30pm EST
Written by Jordy

The No. 5-ranked Duke Blue Devils head towards the top of the heap for a dance with the No. 1-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs on Friday. Tuesday’s run-in with UCLA wasn’t even close for the Zags. They made it look like it was just another day at the office when running through the No. 2-ranked team in the nation. Gonzaga came into that game as 6.5-point favorites and blew past the Bruins for an 83-63 victory. Duke flexed their offensive muscles as well with a 107-81 win over The Citadel.

Duke’s front court gets an ultimate test

Paolo Banchero is making a smooth transition to college basketball. He’s averaging a team-high 17.8 points and eight rebounds per game. The freshman forward is dripping with the sort of talent that propelled him to casually drop 28 points on The Citadel.

But this Zags team is showing the makings of a monstrous frontcourt.

Yes, I know the Blue Devils beat Kentucky in the opener, but Friday’s game with the Bulldogs is going to be the first real test for Banchero and Wendell Moore Jr.

Gonzaga forward Drew Timme is playing like he’s the best player in college basketball, and center Chet Holmgren has been the ultimate rim enforcer. Duke is going to need Banchero and company to grow up really fast to unseat the Zags in this matchup.

Duke is averaging 85.8 points per game. So at the very least, they’ll have the offensive firepower to tug at Gonzaga’s cape. Of course, they might not like it when Gonzaga tugs back. The Zags are the most well-rounded team in the country, and they’re going to try to get up on Duke early like they did against UCLA.

Zags drop the hammer

The Zags ruined the spectacle that was supposed to come with their matchup with UCLA. It was billed as an epic encounter that pitted the top-two ranked teams in the country against one another.

And it wasn’t even close.

It looked too easy for the Zags as they rolled to an 83-63 victory. It was a game where they reminded the world how great they are defensively as well. They aren’t just a team that scores a lot of points.

But things won’t get any easier with Duke next on the itinerary.

The Blue Devils are no pushovers on the defensive end of the floor with the team ranking 20th in adjusted defensive efficiency by Kenpom. However, they’ll be facing a Zags team with at least four players averaging in double figures.

The Bulldogs can light you up with snipers from long distance or lean on Drew Timme to dominate in the frontcourt. There aren’t a lot of weaknesses on that roster. It’s downright ridiculous at this point that a team as good as Gonzaga can go from Corey Kispert to netting a dominant big man like Chet Holmgren.

When will it end?

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Paolo Banchero, meet Drew Timme.

The Zags absolutely dismantled the No. 2-ranked UCLA Bruins. In a game that featured the top-two teams in the country, it wasn’t even close. The Blue Devils look like they’re going to be really, really good, but they aren’t ready for this challenge—not yet, at least.

Banchero and the offense of Duke is going to come grinding to a halt against Timme and the human skyscraper, Chet Holmgren in the frontcourt. Timme is doing damage on both ends of the floor, and Holmgren seems to be channeling his inner Dikembe Mutombo with the blocks at this point.

Gonzaga is beating teams by an average 38.3-point scoring margin. Not even previously No. 5-ranked Texas could keep the scoring margin under 12 points.

Don’t sleep on the 3-point shooting from Julian Strawther and Rasir Bolton in this meeting, either. This Zags team is loaded, and they’ll continue to show why on Friday. I’m laying the points in this one.

Prediction: Gonzaga Bulldogs (-7.5)

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The defensive dominance put on display by the Zags in Tuesday’s win over UCLA was astonishing. Johnny Juzang and all of the snipers for the Bruins came up ice-cold against the Bulldogs’ suffocating defense. There’s a reason why Kenpom has them sitting in seventh in adjusted defensive efficiency. The fact that most of Duke’s offense comes in the frontcourt through Paolo Banchero and Wendell Moore Jr. is even more concerning.

They’ll be running into a losing battle on Friday. Drew Timme is the heart and soul of this Zags team, and Chet Holmgren is the defensive enforcer from nightmares. Give me the under in this game.

Prediction: Under (154.5)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast, and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys, and all the Sun Drop you can drink.