The wins just keep coming! We picked up another win last night to run our record to 5-2 on the week when we backed the North Carolina State Wolfpack as home underdogs against undefeated Auburn. I felt that even though the Tigers were ranked in the top ten, and NC State was outside of the top twenty-five, that this was a very even matchup. Throw in the fact that this was the first true road game of the year for Auburn, and I loved backing the ‘Pack as home dogs.
NC State didn’t even make us sweat this one as they took an early lead, went into halftime up by eight, and coasted to an easy seven-point outright win. The Wolfpack shot 53% from the field and 45% from deep, making ten threes on the night. Markell Johnson exploded for the best game of his career with twenty-seven points in the win for NC State.
This was a huge statement win for NC State, and they are sure to jump into the top twenty-five when the rankings come out on Monday. How loaded in the ACC? This NC State team was picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the ACC, yet they just beat what could be the best team from the SEC. For Auburn, it was a tough night, but this team will be just fine. The Tigers have a couple of soft games coming up to help lick their wounds before SEC play kicks off in January. For today’s pick, we will look at another ACC team, the Duke Blue Devils, as they play the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Madison Square Garden plays host tonight when the Duke Blue Devils play the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a matchup of two highly ranked teams. The Blue Devils come into this one ranked number two in the land, although a case can certainly be made that they should be number one. This team has wins already over Kentucky, San Diego State, Auburn, and Indiana and is the most exciting team in the country.
For the Red Raiders, they play a bit of a different style, winning games on the defensive side of the ball. But after coming into the season with limited expectations after losing a lot from last year’s Elite Eight team, this team is undefeated and lurking just outside the top ten in the rankings. Tech has nice wins over USC, Nebraska, and Memphis. The Blue Devils are -10.5-point favorites. The game total over-under is set at 148.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from Madison Square Garden.
What else can be said about this Duke team that hasn’t already been said? This is the best recruiting class I have ever seen, and in my eyes, this is the best team in the country. They score at an elite level, they defend at an elite level, and they have the greatest college basketball coach of all-time on their bench, what’s not to like?
Zion Williamson is a do everything, matchup nightmare, that just about nobody has been able to figure out so far this season. Williamson is scoring twenty points a game to go with nine boards, two assists, two steals, and two blocks. He is as big as a center, but as fast as a guard, and is a lock for the number one overall pick in next year’s NBA draft. The sickest part about this Duke team is that as unstoppable as Zion has been this season, he might not even be Duke’s best player.
RJ Barrett came into this season as the nation’s top recruit, ahead of Williamson, and by most accounts has outplayed him. Barrett is going for twenty-five points, seven rebounds, four assists, and a steal a game. The combination of two guys that are so talented has proven to be a lethal one, and we haven’t even talked about the Blue Devils two other five-star freshman, Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones. This team is loaded.
Texas Tech has taken a different approach this season. They don’t have all the glitz and glamour of Duke, but they have a talented team that works hard and shuts people down on defense. The Red Raiders lead the nation in scoring defense and field goal defense. Kenpom has them rated as the top-rated defense efficiency in the nation.
There was a lot of concern about who would replace Keenan Silva for this Red Raiders team this year, but Jarrett Culver has done a great job of filling his shoes this season. Culver has one of the sexier stat lines in the country right now as he is scoring nineteen points a game, dragging down six rebounds, and dishing out nearly five assists. This is all while shooting 58% from the field and over 45% from three and being one of the best on-ball defenders in the country. This kid can do it all.
What a great early season non-conference game we have tonight! Both of the teams are very talented and should be playing on the second weekend come March. The Blue Devils are justifiably favorites, but at more than double-digits, it seems a bit too high. I hate to position myself against Duke, they have shown that if they play their absolute best, they can blow out just about any team in the country. But to be able to get to back this Texas Tech team, getting ten and a half points is value I just can’t pass up on.
Texas Tech plays a ferocious brand of defense, and this game is going to come down to strength on strength. According to kenpom this game matches up the nation’s number two offense, Duke, against the nation’s number one defense, Texas Tech. I will take a great defense over a great offense any time. I think Duke wins, but I don’t see an ounce of quit in this Red Raiders team, and I think when all the smoke clears this game is a tight one.
We saw how frustrated this Duke team can look on offense when they played Auburn, who doesn’t defend nearly as well as Texas Tech, and the Dukies were held to just 76 points, and the game came down to the last few possessions. I see a similar outcome happening tonight. Give me the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the +10.5-points tonight from MSG!