Pick with Analysis
Duke’s onslaught on the rest of the country continues having won its last Four Games by at least 13 points and last two by at least 20 points. Boston College probably isn’t going to change that as it’s lost its last two Games, both at home, to mediocre Syracuse and Notre Dame squads. The question is how much the Blue Devils can win by.
The big problem is that BC is one of the worst defensive teams in the ACC, rating terribly in almost every category outside of free throws allowed. The Eagles are bottom 10 in every other stat in the Conference from field-goal percentage to rebounding and turnover rate. It also doesn’t help that the Eagles don’t rate well offensively with their best trait being that they don’t turn the ball over.
The other issue is that BC’s best player, Ky Bowman, will likely be marked by Duke’s best defender, Tre Jones, most of the Game. Just last Game, Jones contained Shamorie Ponds to 11 points and that was pretty much it for St. John’s, at least in the second half. Bowman is leading the Eagles in most categories at 39.0 minutes, 20.8 points, 7.8 boards, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals per Game. If he can’t put in his usual performance, that would put them into an immediate hole on the road. Others will have to step up, but unfortunately, none of them are good three-point shooters. Wynston Tabbs, Jordan Chatman and Nik Popovic all average close to 14 points per Game, but Tabbs has missed the last three Games with a knee injury and is questionable for this one. Otherwise, scoring is limited with no one else above six points per Game. Steffon Mitchell has played well with 30 rebounds and 20 assists in the last Four Games, but he also only has 10 points in that period. Popovic may have the best matchup against Marques Bolden, while Chatman and Mitchell will draw Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson.
If Boston College isn’t scoring, there’s a good chance this Game could get out of hand. While the Eagles have been competitive in most ACC Games, they also fell by 27 points at home to Virginia, the only other team on the same level as Duke. Their lack of defense will be a problem with or without Tabbs as RJ Barrett (23.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg) can Scoreon anyone. As for stopping Williamson (22.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg), that’s another problem for Mitchell and Jairus Hamilton, who both have size, but also lack experience. For the Blue Devils to cover this huge spread, it will again need a variety of production from guys outside of Barrett and Williamson. The other three starters all reached double digits against St. John’s with Reddish hitting some early threes and finishing with 16 points. He’ll have a size advantage in this Game and will surely get more open looks and to cover, he’ll need to hit those again. Bolden also made every basket he had inside the paint and if he reaches 10 points, that’s always a positive.
All numbers point to Duke having its way most of the Game as BC has the Fourth-worst three-point defense and second-worst two-point defense in the ACC. Those numbers are major concerns and with this being at Cameron Indoor, the hope for backers is that guys like Jack White and Alex O’Connell can hold onto the lead late in the Game.
Our Pick – BC +23.5