KENTUCKY WILDCATS (1-0)
vs. DUKE BLUE DEVILS (1-0)
Champions Classic – Atlanta, GA
Tip-off: Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Duke -3.5, Total: 140.5
It’s an early season test for two of college basketball’s traditional powers when No. 9 Duke and No. 3 Kentucky meet up in the Champions Classic in Atlanta.
Both teams failed to cover in their opener, Duke falling a half-point short of the 19.5-point spread at home against Georgia State, and Kentucky nearly blowing a big lead in a neutral court game against Maryland. The Wildcats’ underwhelming opener is why they’re an underdog despite a higher ranking than the Blue Devils.
Which superpower program will grab a big early-season win? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. Last season, the StatFox group had a combined 65% ATS (206-110-4) success rate in college basketball Best Bets. StatFox Scott led the way at an amazing 71% ATS (56-23-1) followed closely behind by StatFox Gary (68% ATS), StatFox Brian (62% ATS) and StatFox Dave (60% ATS). On Monday, the experts went a collective 4-2-1 ATS with StatFox Dave going 2-0 ATS and StatFox Brian going 1-0-1 ATS. For the season, Brian leads the experts at 3-1-1 ATS (75%).
Duke will be led by a couple of All-America candidates. C Mason Plumlee dominated in the opener against Georgia State, going for 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting along with 14 rebounds and four blocks. The Blue Devils got a solid game from Curry, their top shooter, who had 15 points including three three-pointers. With Andre Dawkins taking a redshirt year, junior G Tyler Thornton stepped up with 13 points on 4-for-7 FG and 3-for-6 from three.
Kentucky got a major scare in its opener against Maryland in Brooklyn. After opening up a 13-point halftime lead, the Wildcats fell apart in the second half. Aside from Goodwin (16 points, 9-for-11 from the line) and Wiltjer (19 points on 6-for-9 FG, 4-for-6 from three) UK generated little offense. In a true show of their poor offensive game plan, middling reserve guard Julius Mays, a transfer from Wright State, ended up leading the team in second half FG attempts, missing all five of his shots.
Starting PG Ryan Harrow will miss Tuesday night’s game with the flu, opening the door for former walk-on Jarrod Polson. With Harrow struggling badly in the opener (0 points on four missed shots, two assists in the opener), Polson stepped up with some opportunistic plays. He had 10 points on 4-of-5 FG.
Kentucky will also need much better performances out of their highly touted low post freshmen. C Nerlens Noel was largely invisible in their opener, outplayed badly by Maryland’s Alex Len on both ends of the floor and finishing with four points, nine rebounds and three blocks. PF Alex Poythress got into foul trouble and finished with eight points and seven rebounds over 23 minutes. UK was dominated on the boards by Maryland, getting outrebounded 54-38 and allowing 28 offensive rebounds.