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Florida State


College Basketball Pick


Duke was anointed the best team in the country before the season began, but a lot of questions have popped up since then. For starters, the Blue Devils got dominated at Virginia Tech in their ACC opener and now get an equally good Florida State team in their second conference road test. And the Seminoles are not a team to take easy rolling on an 11-game winning streak. Before ACC play, none of those wins were that impressive, but FSU is 2-0 in the ACC with a road win at Virginia and most recently a 15-point win against the Hokies.

The biggest question for Duke will be the status of big man Amile Jefferson, who picked up a foot injury in their win on Saturday. This was written before tests came back, but it's hard to see him playing as it's the same foot he injured a year ago. Averaging a double-double on the season, Jefferson is a key cog in the middle of the floor and gives Duke experience in the paint, something needed on the road in Tallahassee.

These teams met only once last season with Duke winning easily at home by 15 points, but this is a much different situation. To make matters tougher, Duke didn't look all that great in Saturday's 93-82 win over Boston College, Jeff Capel's debut as acting coach for Coach K. The Eagles are arguably the worst team in the conference and that showing wasn't all too impressive.

Duke may have the freshmen and better team when the season is over, but this is one of the more balanced teams that Florida State has had in a while. Led by Dwayne Bacon (18.1 ppg), a likely NBA talent, the 'Noles excel because of depth and length. If Jefferson can't go, Jonathan Isaac (12.2 ppg, 7.3 reb) could be the difference in this game because rebounding is an issue for the Blue Devils. That was seen against Boston College when Jefferson only played 13 minutes and Duke was outrebounded by nine against an inferior team.

Of course, even with the injury to Jefferson and FSU's recent success, this is still a loaded Duke team. Luke Kennard started the season on fire, but that has slowed down a bit as the three injured freshmen are getting acclimated into the lineup. Kennard has 25 points total in the last two games, while averaging 21 on the season. Jayson Tatum (16.3 ppg, 7.3 reb) has moved seamlessly into the lineup unlike Harry Giles and Marques Bolden. But again, if Jefferson misses out, all of those guys will be forced to play more minutes, especially Bolden, who is averaging just over seven minutes per game.

Playing at home, the length of Florida State could be an issue for Duke and with how inconsistent the Blue Devils have looked lately, that definitely won't help. Duke has the talent, but this is a game the Seminoles have a shot to win and that would help greatly with three more ranked teams on the schedule after this one.

Our Pick - Duke by 3

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