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No. 2 Duke visits No. 16 Louisville on Tuesday from the KFC Yum! Center. Duke is coming off a very impressive win over then-No-2 Virginia on the road on Saturday, while Louisville lost at Florida State, 85-80 in overtime. Barring something unforeseen, the Blue Devils are a lock for a No. 1 seed, are 5-0 on the road and have won seven straight games to move them to 9-1 in the ACC (tied with North Carolina). Louisville has a No. 15 Net Ranking and figures to be a No. 5 seed in the latest Bracketology.
Just another block for Zion
Zion Williamson will be the number one pick in the upcoming NBA Draft in June. You may have Duke and Zion fatigue by now because ESPN shows the Blue Devils 24-7, but it makes a lot of sense because Williamson is must-see TV. In their win over Virginia on Saturday, Williamson blocked a three-point attempt from 6-7 De’Andre Hunter and threw it into the stands with his right hand (off-hand). Guard R.J. Barrett was the star of the game with 26 points against the Cavs while Williamson added 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The key for Duke was their outstanding shooting, making 57.8 percent from the field and a sizzling 61.9 percent (13-21) from beyond the arc against the nation’s number one defense. Other than committing 15 turnovers, this was a flawless performance by the Blue Devils on the road.
Duke does some great things but they are not a perfect basketball team. They rank fourth in the nation in points per game (86.8), 17th in field goal percentage and 295th (13th in the ACC) in three-point shooting (32.0%). They are underrated defensively as they are holding teams to just 29.5 percent from the three-point line (3rd in ACC, 13th in nation), 38.6 percent from the field (9th in nation) and 65.5 points per game (6th in ACC). Barrett leads in points per game (23.1), while Williamson leads in rebounds (9.2), field goal percentage (68.4), steals (2.2) and blocks (2.0).
Tough loss in Tallahassee
It’s never an easy game when you visit Tallahassee and not because it’s a difficult place to play, but because Florida State is a tough team to play due to their length and size. The Seminoles had also won four straight before the game, but Louisville had a 10-point lead in the second half, but couldn’t hold on in regulation. FSU forced overtime at 65-all and scored 15 points in the extra stanza to win by five.
Defensively, Louisville played well, for the most part, holding the Noles to 37.7 percent from the field and 30.4 percent (7-23) from beyond the arc. They also shot the ball well, making 48.1 percent from the field (12-28 3pt). Christen Cunningham led the Cards with 20 points and seven rebounds, but he had five of the team’s 23 turnovers and that was the deciding factor.
— Louisville Athletics (@GoCards) February 7, 2019
Head coach Chris Mack has done a nice job with a good but not great Louisville squad. Jordan Nwora averages 17.6 points per game and 7.6 rebounds to lead the Cards. On offense, the Cards average 78.6 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting (36.5% 3pt). They also shoot it well from the line, making 76.7 percent (13th in the nation). On defense, they allow 68.5 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting (32.4% 3pt). Louisville ranks 7th in the ACC in rebounding margin (+4.2) and 12th in turnover margin with -0.42.
- 5-1 ATS last 6 Tuesday game.
- 12-3-1 ATS last 16 after an ATS loss.
- Road team is 1-3-1 ATS last 4 in series.
- 15-5-2 Under last 22 overall.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
It’s hard to go against Duke but I think Louisville can cover at home. They’ll be red-hot for this game and the Blue Devils are human. These kids will have a letdown, at least in the first half, coming off the huge win at Virginia. The Cards had won six straight overall before losing to North Carolina at home. That was their last home game and they’ll rebound in a big way against Duke. Take the home dog against the No. 2 team.
Prediction: Louisville +6.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Both teams are excellent defensively. Duke has two excellent shotblockers in Williamson and Marques Bolden. Malik Williamson, at 6-11, 245, is also a physical presence in the paint along with 6-10, 260-pound Steven Enoch. Duke is 15-5-2 Under their last 22 overall and 23-9-2 Under their last 34 after a SU win.
Prediction: Under 151.5
Half-Time Side Pick
I like this Cards team and I think they won’t be intimidated by Duke’s aura. That’s a problem when you face a team so loaded with lottery picks but playing them at home takes away some of that. Expect the Cardinals to jump out quickly.
Prediction: Louisville +4.5 first half
Half-Time Total Bet
While I do like both defenses, the pace of the game is not going to be slow. Both teams love to push it, especially Duke, who is 26th in the nation in pace of play.
Prediction: Over 71.5