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Duke vs Colorado State Preview Article

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Colorado State vs Duke: NCAA Basketball Betting Picks and Game Predictions



Duke vs Colorado State
Friday, November 8, 2019 at 7 p.m. ET at Cameron Indoor Stadium



Odds

Oddsmakers opened Duke as 23.5-point favorites. There has been a little line movement in favor of Duke, which has been favored by as many as 25.5 points. But the line has seemed to settle around 23.5.

For Duke, a big question is whether it can stay focused, after earning a significant season-opening win against high-profile Kansas, on a game that it's unanimously expected to win.

History Suggest A Let-Down From Duke

Last year, Duke earned a massive season-opening victory against Kentucky and followed that up with an outing against Army that was initially very unimpressive as Duke's lead was in single digits for some time in the second half. Army covered.

In 2017, Duke’s first high-profile opponent was Michigan State. It then faced Southern, which it beat by only 17 points in a game without a spread. In 2016, the Blue Devils followed up their first big game of the year against Kansas by beating Penn State by 10 points, about half the margin of victory projected by oddsmakers.

Finally, in 2015, the Blue Devils’ first big opponent was Kentucky. They played VCU afterwards and failed to cover.

So, recent history leads us to expect a Colorado State cover.

Duke’s Offense Is A Work-In-Progress

Multiple Blue Devils can play multiple positions and possibly thrive in unusual areas. Matthew Hurt, for example, is labeled a power forward. But he’s rather on the thin side at 6-9, 214 points, and he’s rather a threat on the perimeter.

While center Vernon Carey is a big and strong man, he’s trying to shake off an exaggerated tendency to operate on the perimeter. Another positionless player is Wendell Moore, who’s able to guard every position besides the center and who can play anywhere on the court.

This level of versatility complicates Coach K’s ability to find the best combination of players. He’ll still need to experiment and tinker with his lineup.

Experimentation is one reason why Coach K reached into his bench with unprecedented depth in Duke’s season opener.

Who Will Step Up Inside?

Another reason that nine Blue Devils played as many minutes as they did is that some of Duke’s top-end talent disappointed. In particular, Wendell Moore looked lost. He played the least minutes out of everyone and also produced the lowest offensive rating.

Inside, Duke is already begging for depth after the departure of Zion. Its biggest hope in front of the basket is in Vernon Carey. I expect the incredibly athletic Carey to bounce back after going 1-for-6 inside the arc against Kansas and its elite shot-blocking center.

But of the other Blue Devils who should see big minutes, Hurt lacks the strength to reliably man the post, and Moore still has to find his footing. Javin DeLaurier will try to contribute some inside scoring off the bench.

Shooting Is Still An Issue

After ranking 327th in three-point efficiency last year, Duke still has a long way to go in this regard.

Tre Jones is still trying — and failing. He went 0-for-4 from three against Kansas. Hurt and Alex O’Connell — the latter more so if he truly has improved defensively — will compose the bulk of Duke’s three-point productivity.

Because shooting guard Cassius Stanley is much more of a slasher-and-dasher type that likes to attack the basket, Duke sorely lacks the personnel to improve much, if at all, in its shooting.from distance.

Duke beat Kansas because the latter committed 28 turnovers. Duke converted only 37.5 percent from two and 33.3 percent from three and its offensive quality appears worrisome.

What Colorado State Can Offer

While scoring without the help of on-ball pressure seems to be problematic for Duke, Colorado State has some reliable sources of productivity.

One well-established go-to player is center Nico Carvacho. Carvacho is a double-double machine. Last year, he ranked top-20 nationally in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage and he converted nearly 60 percent of his two-pointers.

Carvacho brings a strong inside presence on the offensive end that will be a new kind of obstacle for Duke, which had to deal with an elite defensive shot-blocker in Kansas’ center. Carvacho owns a wicked spin move that is one go-to tool when he predictably faces double teams.

Doubling Carvacho is also a bad idea because it opens up options on the perimeter. One reliable three-point shooter is Adam Thistlewood, who converted 44 percent of his three-pointers last year in conference play.

As a power forward, Thistlewood’s versatility — the respect that he demands behind the arc -- opens up more room inside the arc for guys like Kris Martin to attack the rim.



Best Bet: Rams +24 at -111 odds with Pinnacle
 

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Thanks to BAR for his input. I also think that section headers make the article look nicer aesthetically.
 

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