Recent No. 1 Programs Duke, Michigan State Seek Validation In Early-Season Matchup

Both teams were ranked No. 1 at one point this season, but couldn't hold onto the top spot

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Flickr

#10 Duke (7-1) at #11 Michigan State (5-2)

MSU -6.5, O/U 147.5, Tuesday December 3rd, 9:30pm EST
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  • The Duke Blue Devils (7-1) and Michigan State Spartans (5-2) were both ranked No. 1 at one point this season, but both teams couldn’t hold onto the spot. Now ranked No. 10 and No. 11, respectively, Michigan State’s Breslin Center will host Tuesday night’s game in what could be a pivotal game for both programs.

  • Duke enjoyed a quality win over Kansas in their season-opener, but their one loss came at home to Stephen F. Austin. They also just lost star freshman Cassius Stanley (leg) for an indefinite period of time and will have to replace his production. The Blue Devils have gone 4-4 ATS and the over has gone 6-2 in their games. 

  • Michigan State dropped their season-opener to Kentucky and then fell to Virginia Tech back on November 25th. They’ve rebounded with back-to-back wins over Georgia and UCLA, but it’s been a relatively disappointing start for Tom Izzo’s team. The Spartans have gone just 2-5 ATS and the over has gone 3-4 in their games.

  • The Spartans are listed as 6.5 point favorites and the over/under is listed at 147.5 points. BetQL’s NCAAB Model lists one of the teams as the best bet ATS. Find out who it is!

Duke

The major puzzle that Coach K and the Blue Devils have to solve heading into this contest is figuring out who will fill in for Cassius Stanley. The freshman guard was averaging 12.9 points per game in 27.0 minutes before suffering a leg injury that will keep him out indefinitely. Regardless of whether one or more players will fill Stanley’s role, freshman center Vernon Carey Jr. (18.4 points, 9.5 rebounds in 24.8 minutes per game) and sophomore Tre Jones (15.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.9 assists) are going to be the focal points of the Duke offense and both need to step up in this matchup. More than likely, someone else will also have to break out alongside them (Matthew Hurt, Wendell Moore Jr., Joey Baker, Alex O’Connell, Javin DeLaurier and Jack White are the most likely candidates).

While Duke has averaged 83.8 points per game through their first eight games, their youth has been obvious (15.5 assists, 15.3 turnovers per game against mostly far-inferior opponents). The Blue Devils have been solid on the glass, averaging 43.3 rebounds per game, and have added 9.6 steals and 6.3 blocks per contest. They've shot 45.7 percent from the field, including 35.2 percent from three-point range. 

Michigan State

Although nine Spartans have averaged double-figure minutes per game, the team relies heavily on senior guard Cassius Winston, who was the only player selected as a consensus preseason All-American. So far, he’s averaged 17.9 points per game, but has struggled from the field, shooting just 43.2 percent overall. Although Winston has put up 6.0 assists per game, the team’s success has a clear dependency on how he performs individually. In their two losses, Winston struggled. Therefore, the senior will have to show up on his home court tonight. 

Junior forward Xavier Tillman (12.3 points, 10.0 rebounds in 29.6 minutes) and sophomore forward Aaron Henry (12.2 points in 27.5 minutes) are the only two other Spartans averaging double-figure points per game. Michigan State has averaged 80.9 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting and has pulled down 40.9 boards per game. Unlike Duke, they’ve taken care of the ball, averaging 18.4 assists and just 11.6 turnovers per contest. However, they’ve generated just 5.7 steals and 4.7 blocks per contest, which don’t compare to Duke’s numbers on the defensive end.

Prediction

All-in-all, this is shaping up to be a stellar matchup between two legendary programs. However, BetQL’s NCAAB Model lists one of the teams as the best bet ATS. Find out who it is!