Pitt Panthers Poised to Pull ‘Faux Upset’ of Duke Blue Devils – NCAAM January 19

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9 p.m. ET – Duke (-4½) at Pittsburgh O/U: 144

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Duke -4½ (-115) -195 O 144 (-110)
Pittsburgh +4½ (-105) +170 U 144 (-110)

What’s up with perennial national power Duke? The 5-3 Blue Devils have fallen out of the Top 25 for the first time all season following a 74-67 loss to Virginia Tech last Tuesday. While they have struggled with injuries this season, but the Blue Devils are expected to be at full strength for this matchup against 7-2 Pitt. The Panthers have won two in a row, but those were the only two games they have played over the last three weeks as they’ve battled COVID-19 issues.

The time off did not seem to bother Pittsburgh in its last game, as the Panthers racked up 96 points in a victory over Syracuse on Saturday.

Any ACC game involving Duke is special, but this matchup always has a little more juice because Pitt is coached by Mike Krzyzewski disciple Jeff Capel III, who not only played for Coach K in Durham but then was an assistant coach there under him from 2011 until Capel’s hiring at Pitt in 2018. And it always become more interesting when it appears to the student may be catching up to the teacher. Capel told the Pittsburgh Tribune that facing off against his mentor always means a little more to him and his Pitt players.

“It resonates with everyone,” Capel said. “It’s Duke It’s the gold standard of college basketball. As long as he’s been on that sideline, it will be that. I don’t care what their record is.”

Oddsmakers don’t seem to care so much, either, at least for the time being. Duke is 1-7 against the spread this season for a reason. The market is overinflated because sportsbooks know they can keep getting bettors on Duke with short spreads. If both teams switched jerseys, this game in reality should be Pittsburgh giving Duke the 3.5 points currently being offered by MyBookie.

Please Note:
Pittsburgh just scored 64 points in the second half of their matchup against Syracuse because of their success at shooting over the 2-3 zone and getting to the free throw line. Duke’s defense has been far from satisfactory this season, ranking 214th in defensive rating according to ESPN. Duke also has a tendency to shift into the 2-3 zone if they are struggling with foul trouble or in getting stops in general on the defensive end. Pittsburgh has showed massive amounts of success against zone defenses this season and that should pay dividends in this matchup.

As always, Duke remains loaded with much of the top, young talent in the nation and is capable of scoring with any team in the country. But the up-and-coming Panthers appear to be on the rise and very well may have the firepower to stay with them and pull this faux upset. Take Pittsburgh to win outright, and the total of Over 141.5 points.

The Bets
Pitt ML
+170
OVER 144
-110
Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.