The AP released their first college basketball poll of the regular season yesterday, and there was a lot of movement! The two teams at the top, the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Baylor Bears remained the same, but below them, we saw some major moves! The Iowa Hawkeyes shot up to number three, followed closely by Wisconsin, Illinois, and Duke, as all of those teams moved up in this week’s poll.
The biggest drop came from Villanova, as the Wildcats dropped from 3rd all of the way to 12th after getting upset by Virginia Tech. Speaking of the Hokies, they made their debut in the rankings, appearing at 16th, after starting their season out 3-0. V-Tech was joined by Richmond as teams breaking into the top-25 for the first time this season. Dropping from the rankings this week were UCLA and Michigan.
Gonzaga and Baylor remained Nos. 1-2 in the AP Top 25. The Zags received 57 of 63 first-place votes and the Bears had six first-place votes.
The rest was filled with change as teams exceeded or failed to live up to preseason expectations.
— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) December 1, 2020
The Big 10 continues to dominate the rankings as they have six teams in the top-25, including three teams in the top-5. The Big 12 is next, as they have five representatives in this week’s rankings. There are a ton of big matchups today that are going to shake these rankings up even more, including games between Kansas and Kentucky and Duke and Michigan State. For our free daily betting pick, we will head to Cameron Indoor Stadium for the game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Michigan State Spartans.
- Michigan State Spartans (2-0) at Duke Blue Devils (1-0)
- Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham,
- 4:30 PM PST
- TV: ESPN
The Duke Blue Devils will play just their second game of the season tonight, as they host the Michigan State Spartans in a non-conference matchup between two top-10 teams. The Blue Devils came in ranked 6th in the newest version of the AP Poll, and they are 1-0 on the year, with a win over Coppin State Saturday night. Duke lost three players to the NBA from last year’s squad, but they bring back ample talent to compete at the top of the ACC this year.
GAMEDAY vs. Michigan State ‼️
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) December 1, 2020
For Michigan State, the Spartans are also missing some key pieces from last year as Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman are both gone, but Tom Izzo’s team still has their sights set on a Big 10 regular-season title. The Spartans are 2-0 with wins over Eastern Michigan and Notre Dame and a win over Duke would get them into the top-5 nationally.
Michigan State Spartans (2-0)
It is easy to look at the loss of Cassius Winston and wonder what Tom Izzo is going to be able to do to replace a guy that was the heart and soul of the program for several seasons. But when you look at who the Spartans have on tap to replace him, they are going to miss his leadership in the locker room, but they just might be able to replace his production on the floor.
Rocket Watts lives up to his moniker, as this kid is a blur on the floor for Michigan State. Watts was sensational for the Spartans last year as a freshman and is expected to play a big role for Sparty at point guard this season.
And while Watts provides much of the upside, the guy I am most excited to see play is Joshua Langford. Langford was amongst the top guards in the nation in 2018 and has spent the last two years battling various injuries. He is back for his senior year and finally healthy, and while it is hard to expect 15 points a game from him like he scored in 2018, he has a lot of talent and if he stays healthy, he could put the Spartans over the top in the Big 10.
Duke Blue Devils (1-0)
Gone are guys like Vernon Carey, Tre Jones, and Cassius Stanley, but Duke still has what I see as the deepest team in the ACC. They don’t have a surefire lottery pick, which has basically been every Duke fan’s birthright in the last decade, but they are solid top to bottom. Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore were both highly touted freshmen that got lots of valuable experience last year and should emerge as stars this year.
Those two returners are joined by an impressive recruiting class that features a whopping four five-star recruits. The headliner is Jalen Johnson, as many people think he should have been ranked much higher than he was coming out of high school and could end up being the ACC player of the year. Johnson has fellow five-star freshmen Jeremy Roach, DJ Steward, and Mark Williams surrounding him as well. Steward was particularly impressive in his first game of the year as he dropped 24 points and 9 rebounds against Coppin State. You might not know these guys names yet, but they are really good.
Who Do I Like?
How can you not love Tom Izzo? He and his Spartans will play any team, anywhere. He gets a bit of a pass on this road trip, though, as Cameron will be without their trademark Crazies, but winning at Duke has basically been mission impossible for teams in non-conference play. Duke had won 150 straight non-conference home games before being shocked by Stephen F Auston last year at the buzzer. That game was considered a huge upset, despite the Lumberjacks going 28-3 last season.
That tells me that winning this one outright isn’t likely to happen for Michigan State. So, now that we established that they are going to win this one straight up, will they cover the +3-point spread? It will be close, but I don’t think so. The number opened up at Duke -4-points and kenpom would suggest that Michigan State was already being a bit overvalued, as they had the Dukies winning this one by five points.
That didn’t stop the public from backing Michigan State, though, as they backed Sparty, and have moved this line to Duke -3. While one point might not seem like that big of a line move, the difference between three points and four is significant, as that is the difference between a one-possession game and a two-possession game. I will high five the public for opening up ample value for me and back Duke.
If you are an avid reader of my daily picks, you know that I love to fade the public driven line moves. The public just loves to get it wrong, and I love fading them when they do. In a spot like this one, where the number was already likely a bit off, and they moved it even more, I find myself in a high-value spot.
Forget about Stephen F Austin last year, that isn’t happening again tonight at Cameron Indoor, even if the Crazies are watching from home. Give me the Duke Blue Devils as they hold off Michigan State in what should be a competitive game, laying -3-points. I’ll call it a 79-70 final score!