Does Coach K have another deep tournament run in him? The Duke Blue Devils begin their March Madness journey with a matchup against #15 seed Lehigh, and our NCAA Basketball picks are locked and loaded.
The Blue Devils, as the number two seed in the South, are
holding the favorites tag, and NCAA Basketball odds makers are giving them as many as 12.5 points to the
Offense or defense? Which wins out on Friday? Sportsbooks
are expecting a plethora of points and as a result have posted this matchup's total at 148. Which way should we look with our sports picks in this showdown?
People may not know a lot about Lehigh, but this is a team
that's not used to losing.
The Mountain Hawks finished 26-7, locking up their NCAA Tournament berth by winning the Patriot League title game over Bucknell.
I think it'd be fair to say Duke overachieved a little bit
this season. They lost three college stars to the NBA and still won 27 games.
The Blue Devils had trouble in the ACC tournament though,
barely getting by Virginia Tech in the quarters before eventually falling to
Florida State in the semi-finals.
Your daily Ryan Kelly update: he didn't practice on Tuesday
and is considered day-to-day. There's still a chance he could practice before
the game Friday, and his presence back on the team will really open up a lot of
things for Duke.
The Blue Devils would love to have his size and 3-point
shooting, especially after the team struggled so much offensively during the
Duke averaged only 59.5 PPG during the tournament, which is
nowhere near their 77.5 PPG mark during the regular season. Having Kelly back
obviously would be a massive boost.
Please check on his status leading up to tipoff, because my
play is based on him not playing. If Kelly does end up on the court, I like the
Blue Devils to snap out of it and win big.
Instead, I like the value on Lehigh, a team that will be
going all in, hoping to pull off one of the biggest upsets in tournament
Go for it Lehigh
The Mountain Hawks have C.J. McCollum and that's going to
serve them well for sure. The guard out of Canton, Ohio averaged 21.9 PPG
during the season and also recorded a team-high 6.5 rebounds per contest. He
also led the team in assists and steals.
McCollum is fearless, and Lehigh fans are hopeful he can
create some magic here on Friday.
With Kelly out and the Plumlee brothers both in the starting
lineup, the makeup of Duke has changed on both ends of the court. The Blue
Devils have averaged 67.6 PPG
offensively and have given up 68.4 PPG over their last five games.
Meanwhile, the Mountain Hawks have been better in both
areas, averaging 73.8 PPG (46.5 percent shooting, 40.0 percent from three)
offensively and allowing 62.6 PPG. We'll have to see if they can keep Duke's
offense from exploding.
I'm looking for Lehigh to really bring it on Friday and in
turn cover the double-digit spread in the opening round. Remember though that
this is assuming Kelly is out of the lineup.
Good luck with your NCAA Basketball picks!
Mountain Hawks +12.5
Mountain Hawks are 14-3 ATS in their last 17 public games
Blue Devils are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games overall
Blue Devils are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 neutral-site games