The Duke Blue Devils don’t shy away from challenges. Nor do they stack the deck with preseason patsies.
The Devils early season schedule is littered with games from teams of all different styles, tempos and abilities. The mental aspect of playing teams like Illinois and Temple can test a teams’ winning rhythm just like tune-up games against the likes of Davidson, Army and Portland. Duke went up against Portland before coming to Oakland to meet a fellow top five team in Stanford at the Pete Newell Challenge doubleheader Thursday night.
The Cardinal comes in having covered three of four lined games, including their only try as a double-digit favorite on the road at Memphis. Stanford, however, has been off most of the month; Duke has been active. The Devils are 2-2 when laying the points on a neutral court, including their shortest price of the season when favored by six over Temple in the teams’ recent rematch.
Stanford would have a better shot, obviously, if this game were at Maples... Duke 84, Stanford 80.
CALIFORNIA 69, Georgia 67: The nightcap of the Newell Challenge matches the hosts against one of the best spread teams so far. The Bulldogs finally failed last Saturday, getting beat by 18 at Wake Forest. Before that, they got the money in all seven board attempts. The Bears, nearly as busy, are 2-1 against the number at home: all as considerable favorites.
Wake Forest 75, TEMPLE 71: The Deacons are 8-0 overall and 6-0 against the spread, including two similar spots at Richmond and Michigan. This test would loom tougher, however. Owls are trying to shake a six-game losing streak, including five straight failures.
Illinois 79, Missouri 71: The Tigers are 1-1 when getting the points, including last Saturday’s double-overtime cover at Iowa. The Illini have covered seven straight, including a 3-1 mark as favorites: all as double-digits.
SYRACUSE 74, Tennessee 72: Despite 9-0 record, the Volunteers have failed in four straight contests, all as favorites of seven or more. The Orange come in 1-2 against the points at home, but all were attempts as double-digit favorites. SU is also 9-0 straight up and is 3-0 against the number in near pick ”˜em contests.
Kentucky 77, Indiana 71: Hoosiers with five-straight wins and covers, but are just 1-3 against the number in near pick ”˜em contests, get the money against Charlotte at home on Saturday. The Wildcats are 0-3 against the spread as a favorite and 0-2 versus the money in near pick ”˜em contests.
WISCONSIN 70, Marquette 63: Badgers have won seven straight and covered four of their last six, but failed as a nine-point choice in an eight-point victory over Green Bay in a similar spot. The Eagles have failed four straight, including their only opportunity as a dog last Saturday at Xavier.
OHIO STATE 73, Kansas 72: Jayhawks are getting points for the first time after mixed results in their first two road efforts, including the decisive loss at Wake Forest. The Buckeyes have won five straight and are 2-1 laying single digits at home, including a win in a similar spot last week against St. John’s.
North Carolina 71, UCLA 70: The Bruins beat Kentucky in their most comparable matchup to this, winning a near pick ”˜em affair by five in overtime, but they’re 1-3 against the number on their home court: all as favorites. The Heels failed in their only true road opportunity so far, losing at Michigan State by 13 as a seven-point dog.
Illinois 76, TEXAS 71: The Illini covered in their only opportunity as a road favorite, covering 15 at Kansas State, but they haven’t been in the role yet of a single-digit road choice. The Longhorns are just 1-3 against the number so far. Three of their last four games were wins against non-board teams.
OKLAHOMA 77, Arkansas 68: Razorbacks just 1-4 against the number, but the cover came last time out as a very short dog in a one-point loss to Oklahoma State, as the Hogs were favored in their other board games. The Sooners have covered four of their last six board opps and are 1-1 laying singles, as the public steamed their competition in both contests.
TENNESSEE 77, Virginia 71: The Vols roll in undefeated, but have failed four straight against the number, including the last three laying doubles. The Cavs also come in with an unblemished record, but have covered in all three lined games: all as favorites.
Michigan State 79, SETON HALL 71: The undefeated Spartans covered in their only opportunity laying points on the road against Illinois-Chicago, but they’re just 4-3 against the spread overall. The Pirates got the money against Illinois in its only opportunity getting points.
Duke 90, PORTLAND 62- The unbeaten Devils are 3-2 laying doubles and covered their two biggest numbers against Princeton and Michigan. The Pilots are 2-1 against the number and got the money in their only shot getting doubles on the road against Oregon.
N.C.-Charlotte 72, TEXAS-EL PASO 67: The 49ers are 4-2 against the number, including 3-1 as a favorite, but this is their first chance laying points on the road. The Miners are 5-0 straight-up and 3-0 versus the points: all as a very short dog, but this is their first lined home game.
ARIZONA 80, Louisiana State 68: The Tigers are unbeaten, but 1-1 against the spread: both as favorites, including a failure at Houston when the players steamed the Cougars and still got the money in a 2-point loss when getting 3.5. The Wildcats come in 4-4 against the number, but covered in their only two home outings, laying doubles against Gonzaga and St. Mary’s.