Record (Conference): 12-1 (1-0)
Current AP Ranking: #1
Coaches’ Poll Ranking: #2
Right now, Duke Basketball is an absolute powerhouse, and their sole loss this season came at the hands of Gonzaga (ranked at #5 at the time), in a 89-87 nail biter. The Blue Devil’s starting lineup is led by three freshman who are likely top 10 picks in the 2019 draft with RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish, and the former two players currently predicted to be the top 2 picks in the draft. Barrett is putting up 22.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.8 assists on 46.2% from the field, Williamson averages 20.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists on 66.4% shooting, and Reddish scores 12.8 points per game, along with 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists on 35.6%
Duke currently leads the nation in points per game with 91.6, and on average, they outscore opponents by 27.8 points. In their twelve wins this season, only three times have they won by less than 20 points, and only once have they won by less than 10. Given their dangerous offense, star players, and their average margin of victory, Duke has certainly been a good bet all season.
Record (Conference): 7-6 (0-1)
Current AP Ranking: Unranked
Coaches’ Poll Ranking: Unranked
Wake Forest has been rather average this season, and are currently just a game above .500. Thus far, their sole game against a ranked team was a 83-64 loss to third ranked Tennessee on December 22nd. Wake Forest averages 74.8 points per game, with an average scoring margin of 1.1. If Wake Forest manages to score their average while holding Duke to theirs, they’ll cover the spread, however this is a difficult task.
For the Demon Deacons to win, or to score enough to be a decent bet, their top three leading scorers, Brandon Childress, Jaylen Hoard, and Chaundee Brown all need to have solid games. Childress, who averages 17.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists on 48.4% from the field is coming off a 28 point outing against Georgia Tech (albeit in a loss). As a junior and a veteran of Wake Forest, he needs to show up in a big way to pull off the upset. Hoard, who is averaging 15.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists on 49.3% shooting has been solid in his last two games, putting up 23 points and 15 rebounds against Cornell, and 19 points and 8 rebounds against Georgia Tech. Brown is currently averaging 11.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists on 40.7% shooting, and he’s posted at least 10 points and 5 rebounds in each of the Demon Deacons’ last six games.
Overall, I’m taking Duke to win this one, and though there is a possibility that Wake Forest loses by less than 21, that isn’t something I would bet on given some of the monster wins that the Blue Devils have had. This season, Duke’s largest victories include a 64 point win against Stetson, a 51 point win against Princeton, a 38 point win against Eastern Michigan, a 33 point win against Yale, and two 30 point wins against Hartford and the Kentucky Wildcats (who were ranked 18 at the time).
Pick: Duke Blue Devils (+21)