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Clemson

at

Duke

College Basketball Pick

2/11/17

Duke got its coach back, but this still isn’t the team everyone expected it to be before the season. The Blue Devils were supposed to coast through their competition and grab yet another national championship. It was only a few months ago that there was a future bet for Duke vs. the Field. No matter what happens in the North Carolina game, the Blue Devils still have to close the regular season with road games at Virginia, Syracuse, Miami and of course UNC again. Even the home game against Florida State is no gimme.

The question for this game may not be if Duke will win or not, but by how much. The Blue Devils haven’t looked dominant in a while and have kept most of their opponents around since the beat down against Georgia Tech. It’s been an interesting season for Clemson. The Tigers have solid wins in non-conference play, but haven’t been able to find a footing in the ACC and that was highlighted by six-straight losses last month. The problem is that it’s not going to get easier, even with three home games to close the regular season. They still have three on the road in their next four with this one included.

The reason people will back Duke is because Clemson has been far from reliable on the road. The Tigers lost terribly 109-61 last weekend at Florida State. While they beat Pittsburgh before that game, they lost by 32 at Louisville and by 12 at Georgia Tech before that. In certain matchups, Clemson can compete with the best of them, but in other cases, not so much. So what case will this be?

One thing that could help Clemson is Duke’s mediocre defense. Clemson has one of the least efficient offenses in the ACC, but Duke is by no means elite on the defensive side. But for when Duke plays zone, which they likely will, Clemson doesn’t exactly have the shooters to beat it. Jaron Blossomgame is a great player and averages 17.7 points per game, but he’s been on-and-off all season from deep and if he isn't hitting shots in this one, the Tigers will have no chance. And outside of Blossomgame, that’s where the problems arise for Clemson. Avry Holmes has been fairly consistent at hitting shots lately, but that’s about all he does, while their third-leading scorer Marcquise Reed, averages just 20 minutes per game.

And then there’s the bigger issue for Clemson and another reason to back the Blue Devils. Clemson has one of the least efficient defenses in the conference, while Duke has one of the best. As said above, Clemson has had issues with allowing points in bunches to good teams on the road. Guys like Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard are the type of players that can catch fire and light up the scoreboard against this defense. Then there’s also the problem of trying to deal with an improved Jayson Tatum and Amile Jefferson on the glass.

This is the type of game that Blossomgame could go off in against a mediocre defense, but expecting that when he’ll have to defend guys like Kennard and Allen on the other end, is a long shot. If the Blue Devils get going, this could be their easiest win in over a month.

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