Last night was a frustrating way to lose a bet. I backed Purdue as I thought that Carsen Edwards would just be too much too handle and I saw Purdue dominating the boards. Several minutes into the second half when the Boilermakers were up twelve points and Edwards was scoring at will, I felt that I had nailed this pick. The Boilermakers had all of the momentum and had twice as many rebounds as the Hokies. But at the sixteen-minute mark of the second half things shifted.
Virginia Tech really ramped up their defensive pressure and Edwards started taking ill-advised shots and the Hokies climbed back into the game. Nick Alexander-Walker caught fire in the second half and the Hokies dominated down the stretch and won the game 89-83. There are some very talented guard combos in the country this year but none in my opinion look any better than Alexander-Walker and Justin Robinson. The duo combined for forty-eight points in this one.
This is why college basketball betting can be so difficult, especially early in the season. This game went exactly according to script for the first twenty-four minutes, but the Hokies found a spark and finished on a tear and spoiled our bet. For today’s pick we will look at a first round matchup on the Maui Invitational as the Duke Blue Devils play the San Diego State Aztecs.
Every November, the Maui Invitational attracts some of the best teams in the country to Hawaii and puts on a show. This year’s event is as big as ever as the eight team field features three teams currently ranked in the top ten in the country, including two of the top three in Duke and Gonzaga. Today we will breakdown the first-round matchup between Duke and San Diego State. Duke is a -15.5-point favorite. The game total over-under is set at 159.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00 PM PST from the Lahaina Civic Center.
This Duke team is scary good. I haven’t seen a collection of this much talent on one team in a long time in college basketball, maybe ever. The Blue Devils are ranked number one in the country and have looked unbeatable so far this year. They are 4th in the country in points per game, 6th in rebounding, 2nd in assist to turnover ratio, 3rd in assist, and 3rd in blocked shots. And its not like they have played all cupcakes, they played against the Kentucky Wildcats, who were the number two team in the nation at the time and obliterated them by nearly forty points in the season opener.
The Blue Devils are led by a trio of freshman and tout what is likely the best recruiting class in college basketball history. The guy getting the majority of the hype coming into the season was high school sensation Zion Williamson. And all Williamson has done through three games is score 25 points, grab 11 rebounds and 3 assists, all while shooting an absurd 82% from the field. I can’t remember the last time a kid came in with this much hype and has been this good, this fast.
His fellow freshman RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish? Yeah, they have been spectacular too. Barrett, the top recruit in the nation coming into the season, has a 25 point, 5 rebound, 5 assist stat line. While Reddish is going for 17-4-3 while shooting 44% from the land of three. As is always the case at Duke, the Blue Devils have scheduled heavy and have potential matchups with Auburn and Gonzaga in this tournament as well as games on the schedule against Indiana and Texas Tech before starting the murderer’s row that is ACC league play. Don’t be shocked if the Blue Devils win them all, they are that good.
San Diego State is a solid team this season. Most expect them to hang right around the top of the Mountain West Conference this season. Nevada is the clear favorite in the MWC, but San Diego State should give them a run for their money. The Aztecs return three double-digit scorers from last years team that made the NCAA tournament and they have gotten off to a good start as they are 2-0 with blowout victories over the likes of Arkansas Pine Bluff and Texas Southern.
Betting this Duke team is going to be very difficult this season. They have a level of talent we just aren’t used to seeing in college basketball. I wouldn’t be shocked to see these numbers get quickly out of hand on Duke this year. We saw that in Dukes second game of the season when they were forty point favorites against Army. This team will get so much public action that the books just won’t know what to do with them and will likely price them out of backing most of the time.
That being said, I still like them in this matchup against the Aztecs. They are just so much more talented and physical that I don’t see anyway that San Diego State can keep up with them. I can count on one hand how many times a season I lay this many points, it is just not something I like to do, but I am going to do it today. Don’t be surprised in the Blue Devils run the Aztecs completely out of the building today. And the fact that all of the impact players for Duke are freshman means that they are going to stay on the court much longer in this game than they would if this was a group of grizzled veterans. Coach K is still teaching these guys how to play together, and I expect them to romp tonight as they use the Aztecs as a practice squad. Give me the Duke Blue Devils -15.5 points tonight from Maui!