Here's something I certainly didn't expect to write this season: "unranked Duke." The defending National Champions dropped out of the Associated Press Top 25 on Monday (and USA Today poll) for the first time since 2007-08. Duke had been in the poll for 167 straight weeks, the fifth-longest run since the AP poll debuted in 1948-49. The record is UCLA's 221 straight polls from 1966 to 1980. It's actually possible that Duke misses the NCAA Tournament entirely with five games left against teams currently ranked as well as a potential loss at Pittsburgh on Feb. 28.
LSU at Auburn (+5)
SEC matchup is at 7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network. It would really be a shame if LSU (13-8, 6-2) missed the NCAA Tournament as I'd certainly like to see freshman phenom Ben Simmons, the lock No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, on the big stage. The Tigers' at-large resume nearly got a huge boost on Saturday when No. 1 Oklahoma visited Baton Rouge, but the Sooners escaped with a 77-75 win. Simmons only took seven shots and just one in the game's final 10 minutes. He finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists, but OU's Buddy Hield probably locked up the National Player of the Year Award in the game with 32 points. The Tigers had a chance to tie at the end but a driving layup by Tim Quarterman was blocked by Khadeem Lattin. It did look like Quarterman might have been fouled, but there was no call. LSU hasn't beat the nation's top team in a regular-season game since December 2002.
Auburn (9-11, 3-5) lost a third straight on Saturday, 73-63 to an Oklahoma State team that had lost seven straight road games dating to last season. The Tigers played without third-leading scorer and top rebounder Cinmeon Bowers as he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. But Coach Bruce Pearl seemed to indicate that Bowers would play Tuesday. He's averaging 10.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Freshman Horace Spencer got the start in his place vs. OSU and turned in career highs in minutes, rebounds and blocks. Auburn has trailed by at least 10 points in each of its past eight games and is 2-6 in those.
Key trends: LSU is 1-7 against the spread in its past eight road games. Auburn is 6-2 ATS in its past eight at home. The underdog is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
I'm leaning: Auburn.
Duke at Georgia Tech (+3.5)
This ACC game is at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Duke (15-6, 4-4) lost for the fourth time in five games last Monday, 80-69 at then-No. 15 Miami. So maybe the week off is a good thing for Coach K's squad. Freshman Brandon Ingram, likely the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft behind Simmons, led Duke with 19 points and 10 rebounds. It was Duke's first loss this season when outrebounding its opponent. Duke has not forced an opponent into double-digit turnovers in four straight games. Defense has largely been the problem, not offense. Duke is ninth in the NCAA in scoring offense (84.9 ppg) and leads the country in adjusted offensive efficiency (122.7).
Georgia Tech (12-9, 2-6) lost at Syracuse 60-57 on Saturday. Adam Smith missed a desperation 3 at the buzzer for the Yellow Jackets. Their six ACC losses have been by a combined 29 points, so they are competitive. Tech is 9-3 at home this year, including 1-2 in ACC play. The three losses have occurred by a total of six points. Charles Mitchell's 12 double-doubles this season are tied for the ACC lead. He's looking to become the first Tech player to average double figure points and rebounds since Alvin Jones in 2000-01. Mitchell is averaging 11.3 points and 10.7 boards. Georgia Tech has dropped eight straight vs. Duke. This is the only regular-season meeting.
Key trends: The Blue Devils are 11-4 ATS in their past 15 after an ATS loss. Tech is 7-1 ATS in its past eight after a loss.
I'm leaning: Duke.
Colorado State at San Diego State (-11.5)
This Mountain West matchup is the latest tip of the night at 11 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Colorado State (12-9, 4-4) had a two-game winning streak snapped Saturday, 83-76 at Wyoming. The game was tied at halftime, but the Cowboys had 21-6 run over the first seven-plus minutes of the second half and never looked back. CSU never got closer than four after that. The Rams shot a season-low 56.7 percent (17-of-30) from the free-throw line. CSU only turned it over seven times but forced just two by Wyoming. Guard Antwan Scott led CSU with 19 points. Here's an interesting stat: Colorado State is now 1,210-1,210 all-time. The team lost its top three scorers off last year's team.
San Diego State (16-6, 9-0) is running away with the Mountain West regular-season title as every other school has at least two conference losses. The Aztecs won their ninth straight game Saturday, 67-52 at UNLV. It was SDSU's largest margin of victory ever in Vegas against the Rebels and seventh in a row in the series. UNLV's last lead was at 9-8. San Diego State crushed UNLV on the boards, 44-27, and had 27 free-throw attempts to UNLV's nine. It was SDSU's eighth straight Mountain West road win, a conference record. It has won a school-record 11 consecutive MW games overall. San Diego State won two of three meetings vs. CSU last year. The Rams haven't won in San Diego since 2002-03.
Key trends: The Rams are 1-5 ATS in their past six games. The favorite is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. CSU is 1-4 ATS in its past five in San Diego.
I'm leaning: San Diego State.
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