Duke at Virginia

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Round 2 (of probably three and maybe even four?) of the Duke-Virginia men’s basketball rivalry in 2018-19 will take place Saturday in Charlottesville at John Paul Jones Arena. As of late Friday afternoon, several books had Virginia (20-1 straight up, 16-5 against the spread) installed as a two-point favorite with a total of 136.

When these teams met at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham on Jan. 19, Duke (20-2 SU, 14-8 ATS) captured a 72-70 win but failed to cover the number as a four-point home favorite. The 142 combined points went ‘over’ the 136-point total even thought there were only 127 combined points 69 seconds remaining. The side could’ve gone either way, too, as UVA got the backdoor cover thanks to a bucket with three ticks left.

R.J. Barrett led the way with 30 points, five rebounds and three assists compared to only one turnover. Zion Williamson made 10-of-16 field-goal attempts and finished with 27 points, nine rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot. Cam Reddish contributed nine points, eight boards and a pair of steals.

UVA sophomore De’Andre Hunter had 18 points and four rebounds on 8-of-14 shooting from the field. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome scored 14 points apiece, but they combined to make only 3-of-12 attempts from 3-point range. The Cavs hit only 3-of-17 (17.6%) shots from downtown, although they made 52.8 percent of their overall FGAs.

Duke had a 30-27 edge in the rebounding department. The Blue Devils went to the free-throw line 31 times compared to 17 trips to the stripe for UVA.

Since hooking up its betting supporters with 10 consecutive spread covers, Tony Bennett’s squad has failed to cover in back-to-back games after beating Miami 56-46 as an 18-point home ‘chalk’ this past Saturday. Hunter led the way with 14 points, six rebounds, two assists, a pair of steals and one blocked shot. Kamari Diakite finished with 11 points, six boards and three blocks, while Kyle Guy contributed 10 points, four rebounds and three assists without a turnover. The Cavaliers dominated the glass with a 40-23 rebounding advantage over UM.

UVA is ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense (52.9 points per game) and at defending the 3-point line (24.7%). The Cavs are third nationally in field-goal percentage defense, forcing foes to make merely 37.0 percent of their shots. They aren’t too shabby at the other end, either, ranking 14th in the country in 3-point accuracy (39.5%), 19th in free-throw percentage (76.1%) and 39th in FG percentage (47.7%).

Hunter, who went down with an injury late in last year’s regular season and didn’t play in his team’s unprecedented 1/16 loss in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, is averaging a team-best 14.7 PPG. Hunter averages 5.4 RPG, has a 47/24 assist-to-turnover ratio, makes 52.9 percent of his FGAs and 43.2 percent of his 3-pointers.

Guy (14.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG) has a 44/26 assist-to-turnover ratio, hits 43.8 percent of his trifectas and 85.4 percent of his FTAs. Jerome (13.0 PPG) is burying 40.6 percent of his downtown launches and has a stellar 99/33 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Virginia is undefeated in 11 home games with an 8-3 spread record. The Cavs are 6-1 ATS in seven games as single-digit favorites, 2-0 ATS in pair of single-digit home ‘chalk’ situations.

UVA is ranked No. 1 at KenPom.com, compiling a 7-1 record against K-Pom Top 50 opponents. The Cavs are 13-1 against the Top 100.

Duke and UVA are in a three-way tie with North Carolina for first place in the ACC standings with 8-1 records. This trio holds a one-game edge over Louisville, which is a short road underdog (+2.5) at FSU. UVA has won seven of its nine ACC games by double-digit margins.

Duke has won outright in all four of its true road games while posting a 3-1 spread record. The Blue Devils have had less prep time for UVA since they had to play on Tuesday, beating Boston College 80-55 as 24-point home favorites. The 135 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 158-point total. Mike Krzyzewski’s team trailed BC 30-28 at intermission before covering in front-door fashion by taking its only 25-point lead with about a minute remaining.

Reddish went 8-of-16 from the field and scored a game-high 24 points. Barrett had 19 points, five rebounds and a pair of assists, while Williamson produced 16 points, 17 rebounds, four steals, three assists and three blocked shots. Tre Jones added 11 points, five rebounds, one rejection and three assists without a turnover.

Since losing in overtime at home to Syracuse on Jan. 14 when Jones left the game early in the first half with an injured shoulder and Reddish was ‘out’ sick, Duke has won six straight games and gone 4-1 ATS its last five times out. The last five victories have come by 13 points or more, including a 91-61 home win over St. John’s last Saturday. (The Red Storm bounced back and won at Marquette 72 hours later.)

Williamson torched the Johnnies by making 13-of-17 FGAs in a 29-point effort. The freshman sensation also had six rebounds, five steals and a pair of rejections, while Barrett added 15 points and 14 boards.

This is only Duke’s second (and probably last) underdog spot of the season. In their opener at Banker Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis back on Nov. 6, the Blue Devils humbled Kentucky by a 118-84 count as 2.5-point ‘dogs. Barrett, Williamson and Reddish scored 33, 28 and 22 points, respectively, in their collegiate debuts.

Barrett is averaging 23.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Williamson (22.0 PPG, 2.0 BPG) is averaging team-highs in rebounding (9.4 RPG), steals (2.1 SPG) and FG percentage (68.2%). Reddish is scoring at a 13.5 PPG clip, while Marques Bolden (5.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG) leads the Blue Devils in blocked shots (46, 2.1 BPG). Jones (8.4 PPG) has an incredible 110/23 assist-to-turnover ratio and 39 steals.

Duke is ranked fourth in the country in scoring with its 87.0 PPG average. The Blue Devils rank No. 21 nationally in FG percentage (48.6%), but they struggle from 3-point land (#317 nationally, 30.8%). They defend at a high level as well, ranking sixth in the nation in FG-percentage defense (38.2%) and ninth at defending the 3-point line (28.8%). Duke is 38th nationally in scoring ‘D’ (65.2 PPG).

Duke is No.2 at K-Pom, going 8-2 versus the Top 50 and 13-2 against the Top 100.

Since Duke’s win over UVA saw the ‘over’ hit, the ‘under’ has been a winner in each of its past five games. The ‘under’ is 15-5-2 overall for the Blue Devils, 3-0-1 in their road assignments.

The ‘under’ has cashed in back-to-back UVA games to improve to 12-9 overall and 7-4 in its home games.

Tip-off on ESPN is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

-- Washington won its 12th straight game, covered the spread for the 10th consecutive time and remained unbeaten in Pac-12 play with Thursday’s 67-60 win at Arizona as a 2.5-point underdog. The Huskies hooked up money-line backers with a +125 return. Noah Dickerson (ankle) was a game-time decision and didn’t start, but he contributed 10 points and three rebounds in 26 minutes of playing time. Mike Hopkins’ squad plays Saturday at Arizona State. The Sun Devils are desperate for a win here, especially after seeing their resume decimated by Thursday’s 91-70 loss to Washington State as 15-point home favorites.

-- Speaking of the Cougars, let’s give a shout out to one of the nation’s most underrated players, Robert Franks. The Washington State big man was downright nasty against the Sun Devils, erupting for 34 points, 13 rebounds, four steals, four blocked shots and two assists. Nate Ellery nearly had a triple-double for the Cougars, finishing with 10 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

-- Looking for an under-the-radar squad that could be heard from in March and, most importantly for our purposes, is cashing tickets galore? We introduce you to the Hofstra Pride, the owners of a 20-4 SU record and an 18-5 ATS mark. After an overtime loss at VCU on Nov. 24, Hofstra won 16 games in a row until falling last Saturday at Northeastern (a team that won by double digits at Harvard, beat Alabama by 16 on a neutral court and only lost by three at Hofstra). The Pride bounced back in Thursday’s 102-61 win over Elon as an 18-point home favorite. Hofstra, which is 11-3 ATS in its past 14 outings, will host William & Mary on Saturday. The Pride is led by senior guard Justin Wright-Foreman, who averages 25.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He’s making 51.1 percent of his FGAs, 41.4 percent of his launches from downtown and 87.8 percent of his FTAs. Wright-Foreman scored at a 24.4 PPG clip last season and averaged 18.1 PPG as a sophomore.

-- The injury notes below were all from late Friday afternoon, so you’ll obviously want to check these for updates on Saturday morning. Let’s start with Colgate’s Jordan Burns, who averages 17.4 points, 5.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 SPG. He’s ‘questionable’ against Loyola-Maryland due to a leg injury.

-- Creighton guard Ty-Shon Alexander (knee) is ‘questionable’ at Seton Hall. Alexander averages 17.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 APG. The Pirates and Bluejays will collide at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on the CBS Sports Network.

-- Baylor’s Makai Mason (foot) is ‘questionable’ for a home game vs. Kansas State. Mason averages 16.1 points and 3.0 APG for the Bears, who saw their six-game winning streak both SU and ATS snapped in Wednesday’s 84-72 loss at Texas. The Wildcats are in first place in the Big 12 with their 7-2 record. Iowa State is one-half game back at 7-3, while Baylor is one game behind at 6-3. Texas Tech and Kansas are 6-4 in Big 12 action.

-- Speaking of the Jayhawks, their quest to win a 15th straight Big 12 regular-season championship is in even greater danger after yesterday’s news that Lagerald Vick is not going be around for at least a few games. “Lagerald has some personal matters that require his immediate attention and he will be taking a leave of absence from our team,” KU head coach Bill Self said in a statement released by the school. “During this time, we will respect Lagerald’s privacy. There’s no timetable for his return.” Vick, the starting senior guard, is averaging 14.1 points and 4.0 RPG while draining 45.5 percent of his 3-balls. Without Vick’s threat from the perimeter, KU star Dedric Lawson is going to be getting double-teamed on nearly every touch. Making matters even worse, Marcus Garrett (ankle) is ‘doubtful’ vs. Oklahoma State. KU will host the Cowboys at noon Eastern on ESPN.

-- Auburn’s Jared Harper (ankle) has been upgraded from ‘questionable’ to ‘probable’ for Saturday’s SEC showdown at LSU. Bruce Pearl’s team has struggled mightily on the road, going 1-4 both SU and ATS in five road assignments. LSU is 11-1 SU and 5-7 ATS at home. Auburn has had an extra day of prep time after dropping Florida 76-62 an eight-point home favorite Tuesday. Meanwhile, LSU responded to its first loss in SEC play at home to Arkansas on Saturday by going into Starkville and winning in overtime Wednesday behind Herculean efforts from Tremont Waters and Naz Reid. Books opened LSU at -1.5 late Friday afternoon, but I believe that number will be higher in a few hours (and on Saturday morning, obviously).

-- Florida is winless and 1-6 ATS in seven games as an underdog this year. Mike White’s team is also mired in a 0-5 ATS slump. Although UF is 12-10, it’s still in the hunt for an at-large berth but must start picking up some key wins. This is obviously a great opportunity Saturday at top-ranked Tennessee, which opened as an 11-point home favorite. This is the richest ‘dog spot of the season for Florida for the second straight game.

-- Alabama, currently on the good/right side of the bubble according to most bracketology gurus, can’t afford a bad loss at Vanderbilt. The Crimson Tide opened -2 at books. Vandy remains winless in SEC play and is an abysmal 4-9 ATS in its past 13 games. The ‘over’ is 4-1 for the Commodores in their last five contests. The ‘over’ is 14-7 overall for ‘Bama, but the ‘under’ is 4-3 in its road games and has cashed at a 5-2 rate in its past seven outings. The total was 143.5 points on the send-out.

-- As I’ve noted multiple times over the last week and change, Nebraska is at the top of my Fade List right now. The Cornhuskers, who are mired in a 0-6 slump both SU and ATS and have looked awful since losing Isaac Copeland to season-ending ACL tear, opened as 10-point underdogs at Purdue.

-- Troy’s Jordon Varnado (indeed, the younger brother of former Mississippi State shot-blocking king Jarvis) is ‘questionable’ against Arkansas State. Varnado averages 21.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 blocked shots per game.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.