Duke at N.C. State
January 5, 2018
By Brian Edwards
**Editor’s note: Brian Edwards is on fire in college hoops since Dec. 27, compiling a 15-5 record (75.0%, +9.69 Units!). He has nailed seven of his past eight guaranteed plays and is 15-5 on G-plays since Dec. 8 (75.0%, +9.64 Units). Get signed up for more winners with Brian right now for the long term, or you can just cash in on tonight’s pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
**Duke at North Carolina State**
-- These old-school ACC adversaries will square off Saturday night in Raleigh at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
-- Duke (13-1 straight up, 8-4 against the spread) is No. 1 in the RPI Rankings, No. 5 at KenPom.com and No. 2 in the Associated Press’s poll. The Blue Devils are 2-0 against the RPI Top 50 and 9-1 versus the Top 100. They took their lone defeat on Dec. 9 at Boston College by an 89-84 count.
-- Duke owns neutral-court wins over Michigan State (88-81), Portland State (99-81), Texas (85-78) and Florida (87-84). Mike Krzyzewski’s club has quality home wins over FSU (100-93), South Dakota (96-80), Furman (92-63), Elon (97-68) and Utah Valley (97-68). Don’t think those mid-and-low-major teams are quality wins? I hear that, but South Dakota (#82 RPI), Elon (#68), Furman (#96) and Utah Valley (#79) are all currently Top-100 RPI squads.
-- Duke has won back-to-back home games over Evansville (104-40) and FSU since the loss at BC. The Seminoles led 49-45 at intermission at Cameron Indoor Stadium this past Saturday. Coach K’s team outscored FSU 55-44 in the second half to win by seven, but it failed to cover the spread as an 11.5-point home favorite. All five Duke starters scored in double figures led by freshman center Marvin Bagley III, who exploded for 32 points and 21 rebounds on 13-of-17 shooting from the field. Grayson Allen added 22 points and six assists compared to just two turnovers, while Wendell Carter Jr. also had a double-double with 14 points, 16 boards, four assists and four blocked shots. Trevon Dural contributed 16 points and four assists with only one turnover.
-- Duke is 1-1 both SU and ATS in a pair of true road assignments. In addition to the loss at BC, the Blue Devils went to Assembly Hall in Bloomington and captured a 91-81 as 8.5-point road ‘chalk.’ They didn’t get ahead of the number for the first time until going up 86-77 with 2:24 remaining. Bagley’s 23 points and 10 rebounds were the difference at IU.
-- Bagley is a candidate for National Player of the Year honors. He leads the ACC in scoring (21.9 points per game) and rebounding (11.6 RPG). Dural (12.0 PPG) paces the ACC in assists (6.6 APG) and is fourth in the league in steals (1.9 SPG), but his shooting percentages from both downtown (15.8%) and free-throw line (62.2%) are dismal. Allen, the senior who played a key role in Duke’s last national title in 2015 when he was a freshman, has matured this season and hasn’t been involved in any drama. He’s averaging 17.4 PPG, is draining 43.6 percent of his launches from long distance and has a stellar 62/22 assists-to-turnovers ratio. Carter is averaging 13.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per game.
-- Duke is No. 2 in the nation in scoring offense with a 94.6 points-per-game average. The Blue Devils are ninth in the country in field-goal percentage (51.3%).
-- North Carolina State (10-5 SU, 3-5 ATS) is in its first season under head coach Kevin Keatts who went 72-28 overall and 41-13 in Colonial play during his three-year tenure at UNC-Wilmington, which saw the school go to a pair of NCAA Tournaments for the first time in a decade. Keatts, a former assistant under Rick Pitino at Louisville, won Coach of the Year honors in the CAA twice. The 45-year-old replaced Mark Gottfried, who took the Wolfpack to four straight NCAA Tournaments to start his six-year tenure before falling on hard times and going 31-34 in his final two seasons.
-- N.C. State will play its ACC home opener in this spot after getting smashed in a pair of road assignments to start league play. This past Saturday at Clemson, the Tigers thumped N.C. State by a 78-62 count as 10-point home ‘chalk.’ Then on Wednesday night in South Bend, where Notre Dame was playing its first game without star senior center Bonzie Colson, the Fighting Irish blasted the Wolfpack 88-58 as a 6.5-point home favorite at the Joyce Center. Allerik Freeman, a grad transfer from Baylor, had a team-best 13 points, four assists and four rebounds in the losing effort, but he committed five turnovers made only 5-of-16 attempts from the floor. Lennard Freeman was also in double figures with 10 points.
-- N.C. State has won nine of its 10 home games, but it’s clearly faced mostly cupcakes since only three of those contests were lined. The Wolfpack went 2-1 ATS in those matchups, beating Penn State 85-78 on Nov. 29 in the only spot as a home underdog (+2.5).
-- N.C. State’s only home loss came to NC-Greensboro by an 81-76 count as an 8.5-point home favorite. Allerik Freeman had 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in defeat, while Lennard Freeman and Braxton Beverly scored 16 points apiece.Lennard Freeman pulled down a team-best seven rebounds, while Beverly had eight assists compared to just one turnover.
-- N.C. State is No. 91 at KenPom and No. 129 in the RPI. The Wolfpack is 1-2 versus the RPI Top 50 and 1-4 against the Top 100. Keatts’s club captured its best win over Arizona by a 90-84 score on Nov. 22 at the Battle 4 Atlantis. They lost their two other games in the Bahamas to No. Iowa (60-54) and Tennessee (67-58).
-- Allerik Freeman is averaging 15.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Torin Dorn, a junior guard, is averaging 13.2 points and 7.6 RPG, while Lennard Freeman is averaging 11.6 PPG.
-- Markell Johnson, a sophomore guard out of Cleveland’s East Tech High School, is averaging 8.7 points, 6.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game. However, he’s missed five straight games and remains out due to an indefinite suspension for a violation of the school’s Student-Athlete Code of Conduct.
-- The ‘over’ is 5-3 overall for N.C. St., 3-0 in its home games.
-- Duke has won four of the past five against N.C. St., but the Wolfpack have covered the number in three consecutive meetings and won outright on last season’s lone encounter. Gottfried’s team went into Durham as a 16.5-point underdog and won 84-82 on Jan. 23 of 2017. Dennis Smith Jr., who was a one-and-done player who is enjoying an excellent rookie campaign in The Association, was the catalyst against the Blue Devils with 22 points, six assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals. Duke’s Allen was held to 13 points and made just 1-of-9 shots from long distance.
-- The ‘over’ has hit at a remarkable 11-1 overall clip for the Blue Devils, 2-0 in their road games. The ‘over’ cashed in their first 10 lined games until the 144 combined points slithered ‘under’ the 146.5 points.
-- The ‘over’ has been a winner in nine straight games of this rivalry that were played in Raleigh. The ‘over’ is 20-5-1 in the past 26 head-to-head encounters (regardless of the venue).
-- The ‘over’ is 14-3 in Duke’s past 17 road games. Also, the ‘over’ is on a 42-20 run in N.C. St.’s last 62 home contests.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- La Salle star B.J. Johnson is ‘questionable’ for Saturday’s home game vs. VCU with an ankle injury. Johnson, the local grown Philly product who started his career at Syracuse, is averaging 21.8 points and 9.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, has missed three consecutive contests. The Explorers (7-8 SU, 6-8 ATS) are 1-2 SU and 1-1 ATS without him.
-- After serving a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules, Texas A&M star D.J. Hogg will return for Saturday’s home game vs. LSU. Hogg is averaging 14.6 points and 6.8 RPG while shooting at a 50.0 percent clip from 3-point range. The Aggies were without three of their top four leading scorers in Tuesday’s 83-66 home loss to Florida. Duane Wilson sat out the loss to UF with a knee injury and is ‘questionable’ vs. the Tigers. The grad transfer from Marquette is averaging 12.1 PPG and has dished out a team-best 58 assists compared to 33 turnovers. Meanwhile, Admon Gilder (12.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG & 3.7 APG) has been out since mid-December with a knee injury and may not return for another week or so.
-- The ‘under’ is 9-1 overall for Pitt. The Panthers play Saturday at Virginia Tech, which has seen back-to-back ‘unders’ after the ‘over’ went 7-2 in its first nine lined outings. Kevin Stallings’s team remains without Ryan Luther, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury sustained in mid-December. Luther was averaging 12.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game through his team’s first 10 contests.
-- Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods is ‘doubtful’ at Wake Forest with a knee injury. Woods is averaging 14.8 PPG for the Demon Deacons, who are 7-2 SU in their past nine games and 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight lined contests.
-- Harvard’s Bryce Aiken has missed three consecutive games with a knee injury and is ‘questionable’ vs. Dartmouth on Saturday. Aiken averages 17.6 points and 3.3 APG.
-- Already without its best player Bonzie Colson until at least late February, now Mike Brey’s Notre Dame will be without its second-best player against Syracuse. Senior point guard Matt Farrell is averaging 15.9 points, 5.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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