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No. 17 Duke, No. 18 Pittsburgh clash on Monday
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 1/27/2014  at  5:10:00 AM
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DUKE BLUE DEVILS (16-4)

at PITTSBURGH PANTHERS (18-2)

Petersen Events Center - Pittsburgh, PA
Tip-off: Monday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Pittsburgh -4, Total: 144

No. 18 Pittsburgh and No. 17 Duke both try to extend win streaks on Monday night when they meet for the first time as ACC foes.

The Blue Devils have lost two conference games so far, both on the road to weak opponents in Notre Dame and Clemson. But they have now won four in a row SU and three in a row ATS by outscoring opponents by 26.0 PPG, which included their first road win of the season, a 67-46 thrashing of Miami. Overall, they are 12-8 ATS (4-3 ATS in the ACC) though 0-3 ATS with less than two days of rest. The Duke defense has stepped up by allowing only 51.0 PPG in the past two games, but over the past three seasons, the Blue Devils are 2-11 ATS after allowing 30 points or fewer in the first half of two consecutive games. However, they are also 36-21 ATS (63%) since 1997 after outrebounding an opponent by 15+ boards. The Panthers are 18-2 SU with their lone losses coming to Cincinnati and Syracuse by a combined six points. They have yet to fall at home where they are 12-0 SU and 3-5-1 ATS, while overall they are 7-8-2 ATS. Pittsburgh has won two straight SU and ATS since their loss to the Orange, defeating Clemson by 33 and Maryland by a tight 83-79 margin on the road Saturday. Over the past three seasons, Pittsburgh is 1-8 ATS after a combined score of 155+ points, but the school is also 45-25 ATS (64%) under head Jamie Dixon when facing a top-level team (80%+ win pct.). The last time these two teams met was Dec. 20, 2007, when Pittsburgh eked out a 65-64 victory as a six-point underdog on a neutral court.

Can Duke extend its win streak in a tough environment on Monday night? 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 (175-116-5) mark, including a stellar 64% ATS (143-82) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 64% ATS (37-21-1) in Best Bets for the season and 68% ATS (30-14) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 63% ATS (37-22-1) for the season and 74% ATS (20-7) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Zach is a strong 59% ATS (34-24-1) on Best Bets this season, including 62% ATS (28-17) since Nov. 22. StatFox Scott is also 59% ATS (35-24) for the season and 63% ATS (25-15) since Dec. 2, while StatFox Gary is 56% ATS (32-25-2) for the season, and 62% ATS (26-16) since Nov. 29.

The Blue Devils feature one of the nationís most efficient offenses, scoring 81.6 PPG (21st in Div. I), on 47.2% FG (55th in nation), while knocking down 9.1 threes per game (9th in Div. I) on a hefty 40.8% clip (9th in nation). They rarely turn the ball over, coughing it up 9.7 times per game (8th fewest in Div. I). The defense has allowed a pedestrian 66.5 PPG on 44.5% FG this season, but has limited opponents to 29.3% threes this season (21st in nation), and just 59.8 PPG in the past five contests. Though Duke's rebounding has been an issue at times this season (35.4 RPG, 179th in nation), crashing the glass has been a point of emphasis recently with the team holding an eye-popping +18.5 RPG margin over the past two games. Freshman PF Jabari Parker (18.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG) leads the team in scoring and rebounding and is coming off back-to-back double-doubles where he has 15.5 PPG and 14.5 RPG. Sophomore wing Rodney Hood (17.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG) also adds size with the ability to score from anywhere on the floor, draining an impressive 45% of his long-range attempts. Hood has scored in double-figures in eight straight games, including 18 points (9-of-11 FT) and nine boards in Saturday's rout. Down low, C Amile Jefferson (6.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG) helps secure the glass, putting up those numbers in just 19.8 MPG. In conference play, Jefferson has averaged 6.6 PPG and a hefty 8.7 RPG. On the perimeter, PG Quinn Cook (12.6 PPG, 5.5 APG) runs the show nicely with a 2.9 Ast/TO ratio, while SGs Andre Dawkins (8.8 PPG) and Rasheed Sulaimon (8.5 PPG) can both be dangerous scorers, hitting 45% and 46% threes, respectively. Sulaimon has increased his scoring to 13.5 PPG during the four-game win streak.

The Panthers are one of the best passing teams in the nation, tallying 17.0 APG (10th in Div. I) with only 10.4 turnovers per game (26th in nation). This efficiency has led to an impressive 48.8% FG clip (14th in nation) and a solid 76.4 PPG. Although Pittsburgh connects on 35.0% of its three-point tries, the team makes just 4.8 threes per game (40th fewest in Div. I). The Panthers are quite stingy on the defensive end though, yielding 60.2 PPG (12th in Div. I) on 40.2% FG and 31.1% threes. SF Lamar Patterson (17.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.7 APG) will be an exciting matchup against the Blue Devilsí rangy wings with the potential to score from all over the floor. At 6-foot-5, he leads the team in scoring and passing, knocking down 43% of his threes and 51% FG overall. Heís coming off a monster 28-point, seven-rebound, seven-assist and four-steal effort to lead Pittsburgh past Maryland. He has now scored in double-figures in 18 straight games, and is averaging 19.9 PPG on 50% FG in ACC play. Sophomore PG James Robinson (8.3 PPG, 4.2 APG) is the teamís other primary ball handler, and usually makes great decisions with a hefty 4.6 Ast/TO ratio this season. But he ended a streak of committing one or fewer turnovers in 18 straight games when he had four miscues in Saturday's win. Junior SG Cameron Wright (10.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.9 APG) isnít much of a shooter, hitting just 17% threes this season (4-for-23), but he paces the team defensively with 1.9 SPG. Down low, senior PF Talib Zanna (13.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG) will bang against Parker and Jefferson, and over the teamís past five games heís averaging 17.6 PPG on a blistering 71% FG, with 8.2 RPG.

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