Duke moved up a spot in this week’s rankings to No. 2 behind Baylor. They are expected to maintain that status and beat Appalachian State but will they cover the spread?
For Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, this contest with Appalachian State takes on greater significance. With this weekend’s matchup with Cleveland State canceled because the Vikings basketball program is dealing with virus issues, this is the Blue Devils’ last tuneup before starting ACC play on Dec. 22 at home against Virginia Tech.
Appalachian State arrives in Durham with a 6-5 record. Having faced “well-known” opponents like William Peace, Boyce, and Erskine, we’ll surmise Duke will provide a different level of competition for the Mountaineers tonight. The linemakers at DraftKings have set their bettings odds and they have Duke as chalk-laden 21.5-point favorites.
Appalachian State Mountaineers vs. Duke Blue Devils
Thursday, December 16, 2021- 7:00 PM EST at Cameron Indoor Stadium
A Tall Order for the Mountaineers Tonight
The best team Appalachian State (3-4-1 ATS) has faced to date is Iona and that happened in their opening game at Iona, falling 65-53 as 6.5-point underdogs.
For those that might not remember, the Mountaineers were basically a .500 club a year ago. Once the Sun Belt tournament arrived, for whatever reason, App. The state put it all together and won the SBC and made their first-ever NCAA tourney.
With all five starters back, expectations were much higher and most SBC experts had the Mountaineers pegged for third in the conference. That might still happen but some doubt has crept in since the preseason slate has hardly been taxing.
Head coach Dustin Kern has what he believes is a deep squad with 11 players averaging more than 10 minutes a contest. However, there is only one double-digit scorer and that is guard Adrian Delph at 15.6 points a game. This team is only converting on 43.1% of shots and 31.7% from behind the arc.
We have to admit to being curious about App. State, having not seen them play and wondering why last year’s starters are not getting more minutes together, or are they not playing well and need supplemental help?
Coach K Has Loaded Squad
In Mike Krzyzewski’s final season, he appears to have a squad that can compete for national honors. Last year created a morsel of uncertainty about this basketball blue blood and quietly, there were whispers of Duke, finally, would no longer be among the elite. With this year’s recruiting class and the holdovers, that has proven to be completely false.
With the additions of freshmen Paolo Banchero and Trevor Keels, in particular, Duke (4-4-1 ATS) has added more scoring punch inside and outside and stabilized the backcourt. Banchero is likely the No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA draft and his multi-skilled game presumably will only improve as the season wears on.
The best decision junior Wayne Moore Jr. might ever make as a basketball player is coming back to wear a Duke uniform one more time and he’s averaging 17.2 PPG, six rebounds, and five assists, being the glue guy of the group. Duke is averaging 85.3 PPG and places a lot of pressure on opposing defenses.
What Is the Best Side to Be On?
For college basketball picks, if Duke comes to play, they should win by 25 points or more. And because the Blue Devils are not playing Saturday, Coach K might play his top 8 or 9 nine players more to get them the extra work they will miss.
Still, this is a younger Duke team who might not have the focus to play hard for 40 minutes and though Appalachian State has played a weaker schedule, they have held opposing teams to under 40 shooting and are 6-0 ATS versus teams making 48% or more of their shots the last three seasons. Let’s give a nod to the Mountaineers to climb a mountain of a point spread.
NCAAB Pick: Appalachian State +21.5 (-110) with DraftKings