2020 Duke Championship Odds: Reloaded and Chasing Another Title
Everything was set up for it to be a dream season last year for Duke. They had a ridiculously good recruiting class, they won the ACC, and it seemed like they were very serious NCAA Tournament contenders. But things rarely work out quite like they are supposed to, and Duke was upset by Michigan State in what was one heck of an Elite Eight game. It wasn't an ideal ending, but the class still got all the attention they deserved, and now the team is all but starting over again. Reload and attack again - it has become the Duke way lately. They don't have quite the high-end talent this year that they had last year, but only because lightning only strikes rarely even for the most blue chip of squads. But the roster is still very strong, and this is still a massive contender for the ACC crown - and quite a bit more.
Duke Blue Devils Additions/Losses
The big loss, of course, was Zion Williamson, one of the most stunning, impressive unicorns we have seen in college basketball in a long while. He went on to be the first overall pick in the biggest lock in a long while. But he was far from alone - he had two classmates who joined him in the Top 10 of the draft as well. Canadian R.J. Barrett was the third overall choice by the Knicks, and Cam Reddish went 10th overall to the Hawks. The three players will be missed, though even with the stunningly special play by Williamson, it never quite felt like the class fully played to their potential.
How do you replace a class that good? By adding the third-best recruiting class in the country this year. Big man Vernon Carey Jr. was the sixth-rated player in the country, and the top recruit in Florida. Power forward Matthew Hurt, a prototypical stretch 4 from the non-traditional basketball hotbed of Minnesota, is ranked 12th nationally. Both five-stars are well positioned to start, and are going to be key to the success of this squad.
The one place where there isn't a change is one that has been a revolving door lately. The Blue Devils have had different starting point guards in each of the last five seasons, but Tre Jones has returned for his sophomore season to provide some needed continuity. He's a good playmaker who is also set to be one of the top defenders in the country. Jones will be spending time on the court with the other two recruits in the class. Wing Wendell Moore and shooting guard Cassius Stanley are both consensus Top 40 players who will get their chances this year. So, if you are counting along at home, the team adds four guys in the Top 37 recruits in the country. That's not up to the standards of last year when they had three of the Top 5, and four in the Top 15, but it is still something special.
Duke Blue Devils Schedule
Duke starts with a bang as they often do, playing Kansas on a neutral court to open the season in a game that will tell us a fair bit about where both squads are at. Things soften up from there for the rest of November. Their early season tournament is the Empire Classic, where they play Cal, and then either Texas or Georgetown. Things get very tough again on December 3 when they play at the current No. 1 team, Michigan State. But then there won't be much challenge until they play Top 5 team Louisville on January 18. From there, their final 13 games feature just three ranked teams - North Carolina twice, and Virginia. All in all, it is a very manageable schedule, with enough big games to keep them sharp and to keep giving us the chance to see how they measure up.
Duke Blue Devils Futures Odds and Trends
Duke is the third choice to win the national title at +1000, trailing only co-favorites Michigan State and Kentucky. They are the favorites to win the ACC as well at +275, ahead of Virginia at +300, which offers no value, and Louisville at +400.
Despite all of the success the team had last year, this was not a good team to bet on. They were just 18-19-1 ATS last year, which means there weren't long-term profits to be found no matter what you did. They really cooled off late, failing to cover the spread in all four NCAA Tournament games and going an ugly 3-11-1 ATS in their final 14 games. It's probably not a coincidence that it corresponded with when Zion Williamson mania really went out of control. The public doesn't typically have much objectivity when it comes to Duke, but this only made it worse. There were big profits to be had on the totals. They went under 25 times and over just 11.
Duke Blue Devils Predictions
Duke is Duke, so the range of things we can reasonably expect from the squad is pretty narrow by now. They are going to win a bunch of games, including probably at least two NCAA Tournament games. And the upside is for them to cut down the nets. I like Louisville a little better in the ACC because of their experience and depth, but this is a certainly a team to respect. And likely one that won't be great to bet on because of how public they are.
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