We picked up some of the easiest money we will collect all year last night when we backed the Duke Blue Devils against the San Diego Aztecs in a first round matchup of the Maui Invitational. The Dukies were laying -15.5-points but I had a feeling this game would be a complete mismatch, so I laid a bunch of wood and backed the Blue Devils. The game went very much according to plan as Duke dominated from the tip at both ends of the court.
Even without Zion Williamson for much of the first half as he missed long stretches with foul trouble, Duke easily dispatched the Aztecs. And this is a decent San Diego State team. A team that could very easily find itself in the NCAA tournament this year. But that just goes to how you how talented this Duke team is this season. Williamson on the bench with foul trouble? So, what. RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish both got to the rim anytime they wanted.
This Duke team isn’t just good, they are scary good. The books are going to be posting some crazy numbers on this team this year, but with the way they are playing right now it is hard not to like them, even with giant spreads to cover. We see that again today where the Blue Devils are double-digit favorites against Auburn, the number eight team in the country! For today’s pick I will head to Kansas City for the game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Texas Tech Red Raiders matchup tonight in the finals of the Hall of Fame Classic. Nebraska is undefeated on the season and advanced to the finals by blowing out Missouri State last night. The Red Raiders are undefeated on the season as well and made a huge second half charge last night after being down double-digits against USC to earn their spot in the finals. The Cornhuskers are -2-point favorites. The game total over-under is set at 136.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 PM PST from the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
The minute that James Palmer pulled his name out of the NBA draft last season the expectations for this Nebraska team went through the roof. Nebraska isn’t known as a basketball power in the Big 10 but they have some elite talent and they should be in the conversation for the Big 10 title this season. Palmer averaged seventeen points, four rebounds, and three assist last season and returned for his senior year this year. Palmer is posting nearly identical stats to that this season and has added a defensive wrinkle we have not seen from him before as he is getting a steal and a half and a block and a half a game as well.
Palmer is joined Isaiah Copland as another guy that stuck his toes into the NBA draft waters before returning for his senior season. The Huskers start three seniors, all NBA level guys, and have as much talent as any team in the Big 10 this year. Nebraska has yet to play a competitive game this season as they have blown out every team they have faced, and it is only a matter of time before this team cracks the top twenty-five in the polls.
Texas Tech had a great run last season. They gave Kansas a run for its money in the Big 12 and made a run to the Elite Eight. But they lost a LOT of talent from that team. Zaire Smith was an NBA first round draft pick and do everything point guard Keenan Evans will be impossible to replace. Jarrett Culver is the guy the Red Raiders had hoped could step into Evans shoes and he has done an admirable job of doing just that to start the season.
Culver is a strong on the ball defender, much like Evans, and has a seventeen-point, five rebound, four assists stat line on the season. If he can continue that level of production, this team should finish in the top half of the Big 12 this season.
The matchup between Culver and Palmer will be one that goes a long way into deciding who wins this game. Palmer is the better overall player, but Culver has been known to lock guys up on the defensive side of the ball, so this is a matchup to watch for sure.
I like Nebraska in this game. The Big 10 has absolutely dominated this year so far in the non-conference as they have a conference record of 47-7. That tells me that this league is likely very underrated. And Nebraska was picked by many to finish near the top of the Big 10 this year. I have been very high on this Nebraska team all season long and they couldn’t have looked better to start out the year.
I think at some point Texas Tech will get their act together and win some big games, and I think they are going to be an NCAA tournament team at the end of the season. But they are starting two brand new transfers, and while both are solid, this team is going to need more time to gel before I pick them to beat a very talented team like Nebraska. Give me the Nebraska Cornhuskers laying -2 points tonight in the Hall of Fame Classic finals!