No. 7 Duke will try to bounce back from its stunning upset loss to Virginia at home Monday when they travel to Clemson to take on the Tigers in ACC action.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s mission after the loss to Virginia this week has him focused on getting his team’s equilibrium back in order. After destroying North Carolina as a sharply focused crew, his Blue Devils bunch could not match the focus or intensity despite being at home and fell to Virginia as 11-point favorites.
Clemson might not be any more than a .500 squad, but coach Brad Brownell feels his Tigers’ team is close to a breakthrough. Though Clemson is only 1-3 in their last four tries, the defeats were by 10 total points. Two of the setbacks were two points each to Duke and North Carolina and when you lose games like that, Brownell and his players can think of half a dozen or more ways they could have won.
Duke Blue Devils vs. Clemson Tigers
Thursday, February 10, 2022 – 08:00 PM EST at Littlejohn Coliseum
What Does Duke Have to Do to Get Better?
When a team is 19-4 and has the overall talent the Blue Devils have, it can seem like micromanaging to see where they can improve, especially in what appeared as a natural letdown situation.
But what Coach K understands is the ACC Tournament is in a month and the NCAA tourney is in five weeks and any team at this point can grow immensely. When you have the talent Duke does, you can go from a possible Final Four group to a national champion.
One area of improvement is outside shooting. The Blue Devils convert 48.4% of all attempts and from deep they are a solid 36.5% and average 8 made 3’s.
Though forward A.J. Griffin is at 51.9% from the field and 48.6% from behind the arc, he’s sometimes a reluctant shooter. If you have watched Duke, when Griffin is in rhythm, not only is he making shots, he deserves more attention from the opposing team, which opens the whole floor for the Blue Devils offense.
Watch for him tonight against Clemson.
Clemson Has to Trust Themselves to Win
Clemson has a swift turnaround after falling 79-77 at North Carolina and has to let that loss go. That might not be as easy given the fact it was another – close but no cigar – outcome for the Tigers. In two-possession games (six points or less) this season Clemson is 2-7 SU.
While this can be attributed to execution or missed opportunities, ultimately, it’s about belief. Why is it, teams like Clemson have faltered while other clubs manage to win the close ones? It has a great deal to do with knowing you can win versus hoping to.
That’s where the Tigers seem to be, in the latter category. Forward and leading scorer PJ Hall looks ready to elevate his game after scoring a career-high 24 points against the Tar Heels and it might make sense to have the ball go through his hands in the last four minutes of the game.
Still, he can be double-teamed and needs a reliable outlet that can also make shots. Can that start tonight?
What Is the Best Side to Be On?
For college basketball picks, it is hard to overlook how competitive Clemson has played this season and that the Tigers are 8-1 ATS at home playing against a team that wins 80% or more of their games the last three seasons.
At the same time, Duke has won and covered off their three previous setbacks and is 9-2 ATS having won four of their last five games this season.
This definitely feels like a hard call and when that usually happens, it’s best to take the points. Besides, Clemson is 7-0 ATS at Littlejohn versus opponents scoring 77+ points a game.
NCAAB Pick: Clemson +6 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook