College Basketball Betting: Duke at Clemson Preview
by Robert Ferringo - 02/03/2009
Normally a two-game winning streak over ACC royalty Duke would be a pretty impressive feat. But when your last win snapped a 22-game losing streak to the Blue Devils I think you might need to do a little bit better than two in a row before we admit that the Dukies don't completely own you.
The No. 3 Blue Devils head to Clemson on Wednesday as four-point favorites in this key league matchup with the No. 10 Tigers. This game tips off at 9 p.m. and the total is set at 142.0.
The last time these two squads met was in the ACC Tournament semifinals last year, with Clemson scoring a 78-74 upset win. Prior to that the Blue Devils had won an incredible 22 straight games over the Tigers. Duke holds an astounding 100-28 straight up advantage in the all-time series but they are just 22-16 SU in their 38 trips to Littlejohn Coliseum.
Duke recently had a cup of coffee as the No. 1 team in the country last week. But they fell at Wake Forest, 70-68, last Wednesday on the road and that led to them getting bumped from the top spot. They are still 11-1 SU in their last 12 games and are a solid 7-4 ATS in that time frame.
Clemson is hoping for a repeat of both last Wednesday and the last meeting because even though they are ranked No. 10 in the country the general perception is that this team is overrated. While they have a sweet 18-2 record they have achieved that status against the No. 276 nonconference strength of schedule in the country. Clemson has just one win against a team rated in the top 30 (Illinois) against two losses against other Top 30 clubs (loss by 24 at North Carolina and a 10-point loss at home against Wake). Clemson does have three other wins against the Top 55 - beating Temple (45), Miami (44) and South Carolina (53) but that's hardly the resume of a Top 10 team.
Duke, on the other hand, has been exceptional. They have wins over Purdue (11), Xavier (18), Georgetown (19), Davidson (32) and Florida State (55). And their only loss in a little less than two months was a two-point loss at Wake.
From a matchup perspective, the question is whether Clemson's interior players are good enough to take advantage of a thin Duke front line. Forwards Trevor Booker and Ray Sykes give the Tigers some size and athleticism around the basket, but will it be enough? Booker is a stud and averages nearly 15 points per game. And while he is capable of going off for 30 points, he isn't a Blake Griffin-type player that can just dominate a smaller opponent.
On the perimeter, Clemson actually matches up fairly well. They have the most underrated guard in the country in K.C. Rivers and the sharp-shooting Terrence Oglesby, whose range is the gym.
One problem for the Tigers is that they want to press for 40 minutes and they want to force the tempo. That actually plays into Duke's hands because they always have four guys on the court that can handle the ball against pressure. Duke will have some turnovers. But unless they completely collapse, which is unlikely, the guard rotation of Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer and Greg Paulus, along with forwards Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler, will not only break the Clemson press but find themselves getting a lot of open looks on offense after they get the ball up court.
In my opinion this is not an optimum spot for the Tigers. They are playing at home and they are a bit desperate. But they only won one of three meetings with the Blue Devils last year and that was a better Clemson team and a worse Duke squad. Now the Blue Devils clearly have the upper hand and this isn't a great matchup for the Tigers. The road team is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings and I think Clemson will have to wait until next year to try to get their own streak started.