College Basketball Picks: Florida State at Duke Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/21/2012
OK, another new rule: Always go with your gut.
I was planning to preview last Saturday’s North Carolina-Florida State matchup because I thought the Seminoles had a great chance to upset the then-No. 3 Tar Heels. FSU tends to always knock off a Top-5 team once a season at home. But then I thought it was time to give Baylor its due as one of only three unbeaten teams left in the country, so I changed up at the last minute and previewed the Bears hosting Oklahoma State.
And, of course, predicted wrong, with OSU not able to cover the 14.5-point spread in what I thought would be a trap game for Baylor with it having to play at Kansas just 54 hours later. The Bears were outclassed at KU on Monday night, leaving Syracuse and Murray State as the only teams without a loss.
Part of me was tempted to preview the Murray State game this week because, frankly, how often will I preview Murray State? But the Racers shouldn’t have much trouble at SIU-Edwardsville on Saturday, although what do I really know about SIU-Edwardsville? (answer: nothing). So this week I’m making it up to the Seminoles as they face the other Tobacco Road superpower, traveling to No. 4 Duke on Saturday afternoon.
Florida State at Duke Betting Storylines
FSU’s 90-57 win over North Carolina last Saturday has to be the most surprising result of the season thus far. Not that the Seminoles won but that they handed UNC its worst loss ever under Roy Williams. (No team, by the way, has ever lost by at least 30 points in a regular-season game and won the NCAA title. Of course the Heels were preseason National Championship favorites.) It was the largest margin of victory over a Top-3 team in the 15-year history of the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. And FSU was the first unranked team to defeat a Top-3 team by at least 24 points since the beginning of the 1991-92 season.
Now the Seminoles have a chance to defeat North Carolina and Duke in the same season for the first time since 2001-02.
Florida State (12-6, 3-1 ACC) does seem to be getting better by game. In what could have been a big letdown game, the Noles beat Maryland 84-70 on Tuesday night. Florida State has won three straight ACC games after opening the conference schedule with a 20-point loss at Clemson on Jan. 7. The Terps had been playing well, too, having won nine of their past 10 entering Tuesday.
The Noles don’t really have a go-to scorer as only Michael Snaer (13.5 points per game) is among the Top 25 scorers in the ACC (Ian Miller at 13.0 ppg would be but has only played seven games), and four different players have led the team in scoring in the four conference games. But FSU, as has been the case the past few years, is one of the nation’s top defensive teams, ranking No. 3 in field goal percentage defense at 36.1 percent and in the Top 6 in three-point field goal defense and blocks. Florida State is an excellent rebounding team.
Duke (16-2, 4-0) is essentially the opposite of FSU. The Blue Devils are near the bottom of the ACC in many key defensive categories but they are terrific offensively, ranking in the Top 15 nationally in scoring offense, field-goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. And despite a legion of Plumlee brothers, Duke is just mediocre on the boards.
The Blue Devils’ legs should be a bit heavier than FSU’s, as Duke played on Thursday night, clobbering Wake Forest 91-73 in Durham. Andre Dawkins went bananas with all 21 of his points in the first half – all on three-pointers -- and the Blue Devils shot 54 percent from the field (which isn’t far off their season average at home). Prior to Thursday, each of Duke’s last four games were decided by 10 points or less.
Thursday was Duke’s 45th straight win at home, 38 of them by double digits. The record is 46, so obviously that would come in this game. The Blue Devils also have won 64 consecutive home games against unranked opponents. The Blue Devils’ last loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium to an unranked opponent was, ironically, to Florida State on Feb. 4, 2007.
Florida State at Duke Betting Odds and Trends
Duke opened as a 12-point favorite with the total at 145 on NCAA basketball odds. Duke is 7-11 ATS overall and 4-5 at home. FSU is 9-7 ATS overall and 1-3 on road. ‘Over/under’ records: FSU 8-7-1, Duke 12-6.
FSU has covered six of its past eight in ACC play. Duke is just 1-4 ATS in past five games. The over is 5-0-1 in FSU’s past six after a win. The over is 4-0 in Duke’s past four Saturday games. The home team has covered in four of the past five in this series.
College Basketball Picks: Florida State at Duke Betting Predictions
The Seminoles are 4-1 in their last five games against Top-5 ranked teams. One of those was at home over No. 1 Duke on Jan. 12, 2011, in the teams’ only meeting of last season. It was the third time since 2002 that the Seminoles beat a top-ranked Duke team at home. To have a chance, FSU must take care of the ball. It doesn’t have a good assist-to-turnover ratio this season and, in fact, had its first positive ratio of the year against Maryland.
If it’s close, you have to favor Duke. The Blue Devils are 9-1 on the year in games decided by 10 points or less. I would worry about Duke’s rebounding against FSU, but the Blue Devils are way better hitting the boards at home for some reason. If this was in Tallahassee, I might take the Noles for the outright upset. But not in Durham. But I’ll take the points and FSU. And the over.
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