Duke is coming off a loss and is now a huge favorite against a Miami team that’s had problems all season. With or without Zion Williamson, the Blue Devils will get a ton of money, that’s how it goes. While they lost to Virginia Tech, they still won by 10 points at Syracuse, and returning home should help, especially after they got ran out of Cameron Indoor by UNC the last time they were there.
The Hurricanes are no longer a respected team in college basketball with a 12-15 overall record, coming off a 76-75 loss to a bad Wake Forest team. Even worse, they still haven’t won a true road Game, falling to lowly Boston College before the Wake result. Nothing points to this Game being close except that this is the only meeting between these schools and Miami will undoubtedly want to play its best against Duke. Sometimes, that doesn’t matter, though.
The Hurricanes don’t do many things well on either side of the cOurt. They allow the lowest percentage of free throws in the conference, but that doesn’t matter when they are one of the worst in terms of defensive effective field goal percentage. It doesn’t look any better in terms of matchups because the one player that Duke has had problems against, without Zion, is an athletic big that can Scoreand rebound. Miami uses 6-foot-7 Anthony LAwrence often at the Four, while bigs Ebuka Izundu and Sam Waardenburg aren’t exactly the type of players to take over Games like UNC’s LUke Maye or VT’s Kerry Blackshear.
It also doesn’t help that Duke’s best defender, Tre Jones, will mark Miami’s leading scorer Chris Lykes (16.9 ppg). Often, it hasn’t mattered that Lykes is only 5-foot-7, but he’s had some bad Games against better defenses, like scoring one point against FSU, and a matchup with Jones could be troublesome. Even then, this team oddly doesn’t play any better when Lykes has good Games like when he dropped 26 points in the most recent loss to Wake. The Hurricanes need a little more to stay competitive in this Game and their lack of consistency won’t help. Zach Johnson hasn’t scored more than eight points in three of the last Four Games, while Dejan Vasiljevic relies heavily on threes and when those aren’t falling, he doesn’t do much else. LAwrence could be the player that benefits the most without Zion, but he’s still not a guy that’s going to win in the post.
On the other end, Miami will have major problems dealing with RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish. The ‘Canes lack size in the backcOurt and that’s exactly what the Duke guys can capitalize on, especially with Miami’s defense ranking where it does. The Blue Devils may not get anything from the post, but sometimes that doesn’t matter when Barrett and Reddish combine for 50 points. Obviously, if Zion plays, even more money will be thrown at Duke. And while that’s mostly because of name, he would make this matchup that much harder since he’d mark LAwrence, who may be Miami’s most important player in this Game. Without Zion, Duke covering will be difficult simply because this team lacks that consistent third option. Barrett and Reddish are great, but Jones has struggled offensively and no one else can be counted on to score. That being the case, wait for Zion’s status before throwing money on this Game.
Our Pick – Duke -16