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College Basketball Pick
Over the last couple weeks, Duke has returned to its elite status and could further that with a workable schedule the rest of the way. The Blue Devils may not look dominant, but it's hard to argue what this team is capable of. Meanwhile, Wake Forest is one of the many ACC teams sitting on the bubble in need of something more to reach the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, this probably isn't the game that will happen for them.
These teams met a couple of weeks ago and while the Demon Deacons had a really good chance of pulling off an upset, it didn't happen. They led for a good portion of the game and by seven points with about two minutes to go, but it wasn't meant to be as Luke Kennard hit a late three to win it for the road team. In all, Wake had no answer for Kennard or Grayson Allen, the two of which made a combined 11 threes. Wake lost despite getting great games out of its three sophomores, Bryant Crawford, Keyshawn Woods and John Collins. Considering the game they played in that first meeting, it's hard to see the Deacons getting an upset at Cameron Indoor.
Of course, Duke probably won't make 14 threes as a team again, but they also battled foul trouble with Jayson Tatum and Amile Jefferson struggling to stay on the court, as well as turning the ball over 15 times. While Collins is a hand full down low and Crawford was great at drawing fouls, it's hard to see the same scenario playing out for Wake. The Blue Devils will undoubtedly get more from Tatum and Jefferson. Outside of Allen, Tatum has been a huge piece in Duke's recent success and it's unlikely he'll only play 21 minutes again. Tatum showed his worth on Wednesday, dropping 28 points in a 65-55 win at Virginia.
Still, nothing has been a certainty for this Duke team as it continues to let opponents stay in games, even at home. Just last week, Clemson sat around and had a chance to upset and before that the same with Pittsburgh. Wake Forest still has the players to create mismatches with and that starts with Collins down low as he's as consistent as they come, averaging 18.5 points and 9.4 boards per game. He'll be fed plenty with Jefferson seeing the bulk of him defensively, although the Blue Devils will double team a lot in order not to get Jefferson in foul trouble again. Crawford made 15 free throws in that first meeting so he'll try and take that same route, although probably won't be as successful. Without that production, someone else will need to step up and that could be one of the shooters in Austin Arians or Mitchell Wilbekin.
But there's still the issue for Wake's defense that isn't very good in the first place. The Blue Devils made a ton of threes in that first game, but they happened for a reason. Allen and Kennard should find plenty of open looks again, while Jefferson and Tatum will likely provide a bit more as long as foul trouble isn't an issue. Duke may be hard to trust in some aspects, but against weaker defenses, has a large edge that's enough to get wins, especially at home.
Our pick - Duke by 13
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