The Blue Zone is preparing you for tonight’s crucial match between the Blue Devils and the Cavaliers with some unmissable bets:
Virginie (-1) vs. Duke
To be frank, Duke needs this game far more than Virginia. Although the Cavaliers have just suffered a searing loss to Florida State and want a win to avoid a sharp drop in the standings, they are 15-4 and are a safe bet to make the tournament. Duke can’t say the same. At 9-8, the Blue Devils are in desperate need of this win for two reasons: firstly, they are on thin ice as it is and cannot afford another loss, and secondly, it may be their only remaining chance to win in the top 25 in the regular season. Virginia has a rare level of experience with senior forwards Sam Hauser and Jay Huff as well as junior guard Kihei Clark at the helm. The Blue Devils are on the inexperienced side with a largely freshman roster.
While the majority of Dukes’ losses have been close, holding this Cavalier team that rarely makes mistakes less than one point will be asking too much of the Blue Devils, even if the game takes place at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Matthew Hurt will have to carry the load for the Dukes’ midfield offense with a very effective shot, and Jordan Goldwire and company will need to force turnovers and create quick break-out opportunities for the Blue Devils. I won’t be surprised if Duke pulls off the surprise, but considering their closest loss was two points, the much smarter move leans to Virginias’ side of the gap in this one.
Pick: Virginie (-1)
Over / Under: 132 Points
This over / under is very intriguing because which way it falls will depend on which team manages to set the tone of the game.
Virginia has the best defense in the ACC, allowing just 59.9 points per game. This Cavalier team loves to dictate matches by slowing them down and suffocating their opponents in low scoring matches. To put that in perspective, Virginia only scores 69.4 points per game, 234th in the country and 13th in the ACC. If Virginia has its way, you can comfortably take the bottom.
Duke, on the other hand, prefers a game that is much faster and dominated by transition. The Blue Devils have a weaker defense, ranking 9th in the ACC and allowing 70.2 points per game. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has had to try a variety of defensive strategies this season and the Blue Devils haven’t fully integrated any. The Blue Devils offset their defense with a forceful offense, placing 3rd in the ACC and posting 75.3 points per game. If the Blue Devils are successful, you can comfortably take over.
In making this decision, you need to consider the odds that either team will succeed in setting the tone of the game. For the sake of conversation, 132 points can be achieved with 66 points for each team. So which side of that line is the game most likely to fall on? The Cavaliers have only allowed their opponent to touch 66 points or more on four occasions this season. The Blue Devils have crossed that 66-point threshold in every game but one this season, and it was on the road against Louisville. While I think Virginia will win the game, it might just be a Dukes fashion game that gets a higher score. Look for both sides of the ball to make plays and push their teams over 66 points. Take over.
Choose: over 132
Duke Over / Under 6.5 interceptions
Get overtime, all Duke athletes
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Simply put, Duke needs turnovers to win. Flights are an integral part of this Blue Devil squad as they generate transition opportunities that allow players like Goldwire and DJ Steward to shine. Luckily for Duke, he averages 8.2 steals per game thanks to guards like Goldwire pressing in effectively.
Virginia is only giving up 9.6 turnovers per game, and keep in mind that not all turnovers are steals. Travel, stopwatch violations, and five-second violations all count as turnover, to name a few. Getting more than six interceptions against Virginia will be very difficult thanks to the experience of this Cavalier formation.
The team with the lowest average turnover after Virginia is Notre Dame. In their two clashes with Notre Dame this season, the Blue Devils have forced eight and seven interceptions, respectively. The Virginia and Notre Dames ball safety is comparable, thanks to the similar styles of Cavalier head coach Tony Bennett and Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey. Both matches with the Fighting Irish point in favor of Duke surpassing this mark of 6.5. However, the Cavaliers are having a much more successful season than Notre Dame and will make things much more difficult for the Blue Devils.
This will be an interesting statistic to follow throughout the game and expect it to come at the very end. In the end, look for Virginia to win and force Duke in the below on this one.
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