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Pitt

at

Duke

College Basketball Pick

2/4/17

It took some time, but it looks like Duke is starting to come around with its previously injured freshmen starting to gel and Coach K coming back shortly. To help, their next three games will all be at Cameron Indoor starting with this one and then a meeting with North Carolina. It won't be long before the Blue Devils are near the top of the ACC once again.

As for Pittsburgh, it's almost the opposite situation. Since beating Virginia in early January, nothing has gone right for the Panthers, although they have a difficult schedule to thank for that. Either way, losing by 55 points at home to Louisville should've never happened. After giving North Carolina a test on Tuesday, they get Duke on Saturday, maybe the hardest two-game stretch this season. But this team continues to be competitive in road games, fighting at NC State, Louisville and UNC in conference play and even beating Maryland on the road by 14 points. As for Duke, things should be back to normal in Durham after losing to NC State last time at home.

The problem for Pitt is that they don't have the type of team to win this game. Teams that can bully Duke in the paint are the ones that have an advantage. That's something Notre Dame couldn't do on Monday and the Blue Devils walked out of South Bend with a road win. Not to say the Panthers don't have size, because they do, but not having a true big man will hurt in this game, as will not having much of a bench.

The funny thing with Pitt's lineup is that every starter is between 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-9. That's nice at times, but this isn't a great rebounding team and Pitt is last in the conference in effective FG% offensively and defensively. That's why they sit in last place in the ACC. Allowing the worst three-point percentage in the ACC is going to be a major issue against guys like Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen and Matt Jones. With those shooters on the outside that can also drive with Jayson Tatum and Amile Jefferson inside the arc, Pitt's defense will have plenty of issues.

So the question will be if they can score, which hasn't been a guarantee this season. After scoring 88 points against Virginia, things looked positive. However, the offense has zero balance. Jamel Artis and Michael Young do everything for this team and when either of them struggles, so does the entire team. Artis had nine points in the big loss to Louisville, while Young had just two points when Pitt scored 46 against Miami. Last weekend, Young went 3-of-16 from the field and they lost at home to Clemson. Needing two guys to have good games leaves little room for success and even though Duke doesn't play the best defense, expecting both to go off for 20-plus points at Cameron Indoor is far fetched.

If other guys like Cameron Johnson and Sheldon Jeter can't provide anything, this is set to be yet another long game for the Panthers. Johnson has been better in recent games, scoring 40 in the last two, so staying hot will be key. Keeping this game within 10 points may seem like a stretch if not, considering how they are playing at the moment under new coach Kevin Stallings.

Our Pick - Duke by 14

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