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No. 23 Duke hosts slumping NC State on Saturday
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 1/18/2014  at  5:37:00 AM
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Cameron Indoor Stadium - Durham, NC
Tip-off: Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET
Line: Duke -13, Total: 147

Amid a shaky stretch, No. 23 Duke will host North Carolina State on Saturday afternoon, facing a team that has now lost two in a row.

The Blue Devils are coming off a narrow 69-65 home win against Virginia, a team that demolished the Wolfpack 76-45 last week. Before that, Duke had lost two of its previous three—both on the road—to Clemson and Notre Dame. The Wolfpack beat the Fighting Irish at the beginning of January, but are now in a two-game slide after the losses to the Cavaliers and Wake Forest by one point on Wednesday. The Blue Devils are now 9-8 ATS overall (6-4 ATS at home) but are just 1-3 ATS in ACC play. NC State is 7-7 ATS overall and 3-2 ATS on the road. These two teams split their two meetings last year (SU and ATS), while the Blue Devils have won seven of the past 10 meetings between these two programs. However, the Wolfpack have covered the spread in six of those matchups.

Can Duke win handily at home over NC State on Saturday? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 60% ATS (154-104-5) mark, including a stellar 64% ATS (122-70) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Zach is leading the way at 61% ATS (31-20-1) on Best Bets this season, including 66% ATS (25-13) since Nov. 22. StatFox Brian is at 60% ATS (32-21-1) for the season and 64% ATS (25-14) since Nov. 26, while StatFox Scott is also 60% ATS (32-21) for the season and 65% ATS (22-12) since Dec. 2. StatFox Gary is 60% ATS (30-20-2) for the season too, and 69% ATS (22-10) since Dec. 3, while StatFox Dave is 57% ATS (29-22-1) for the season and 63% ATS (12-7) since Dec. 18.

North Carolina State depends heavily on sophomore PF T.J. Warren (22.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG), who scores a significant portion of the team’s pedestrian 72.5 PPG (175th in Div. I). Limiting him is the key to beating the Wolfpack, as Virginia found out when it held Warren to 1-of-9 shooting and four points. In his two games against Duke last season, Warren went 10-for-20 from the field for a combined 22 points. His post play is critical as the Wolfpack are a dreadful shooting team, making only 29% of their attempts from beyond the arc. Their only threat from long distance is junior SG Ralson Turner (9.3 PPG), who is hitting 41% of his threes. The one thing they do especially well on the offensive end is take care of the ball, coughing it up only 10.9 times per game. PG Anthony “Cat” Barber (11.5 PPG, 4.2 APG) runs the offense adequately (2.0 Ast/TO ratio), though he must improve on his 39.6% field-goal shooting in order to become more of an offensive threat. He and SG Desmond Lee (10.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG) both shoot below 28% from 3-point range. Down low, 7-foot-1 C Jordan Vandenberg (6.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG) and PF Lennard Freeman (4.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG) have the potential to be strong rebounders, though they aren’t really threats to score the ball right now.

Duke has one of the most efficient offenses in the nation, averaging 81.9 PPG (22nd in nation) on 48.2% FG (32nd in Div. I) with 15.3 APG (46th in nation). Their issues have been on the boards, where they rank 231st in the nation with only 34.3 RPG, and have been getting outrebounded by 5.5 RPG in ACC play. Freshman PF Jabari Parker (18.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG) leads the Duke offense, though he is amid a funk in which he’s averaging only 10.8 PPG over the team’s past five contests. Sophomore SF Rodney Hood (18.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG) has picked up the slack in the meantime, with three 20-point efforts in the past four games. Because they are primary scoring options, much of the rebounding falls on sophomore C Amile Jefferson (6.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG), who helped secure the win against Virginia with late rebounds, tallying a career-high 15 boards in total. On the perimeter, PG Quinn Cook (13.2 PPG, 5.9 APG) runs the show, though he has been cold lately, going just 5-for-21 from the field in his past two contests, failing to break double-digits in both. When Duke beat the Wolfpack last year, Cook was super efficient, going 6-for-8 from the field for 21 points (4-of-5 threes) with four assists. The bright spot recently has been SG Rasheed Sulaimon (8.1 PPG), who scored a season-high 21 points against the Cavaliers. In last year’s loss to NC State, Sulaimon was one of the main factors, going 0-for-10 from the field.

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