DUKE BLUE DEVILS (22-2)
at MARYLAND TERRAPINS (17-7)
Comcast Center – College Park, MD
Tip-off: Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET
Line: Duke -5.5, Total: 140
With Maryland announcing its intentions to join the Big Ten earlier this season, Saturday could be its final ACC matchup with No. 2 Duke.
The Blue Devils initially struggled to find their groove after the loss of senior forward Ryan Kelly, dropping two of three games, but that turned around with an 84-64 romp of the Terrapins at Cameron Indoor Stadium, jump-starting their current six game win streak (3-3 ATS). Since that defeat, the Terrapins have struggled to find their mojo, going 2-2 with losses to Florida State and most recently by 11 points at home to underdog Virginia. They do have a major edge in one category though, grabbing 42.2 RPG (2nd-most in D-I), which is 6.8 RPG more than Duke has. The Blue Devils have owned this rivalry, going 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS in the last 10 games between these two teams, and winning each of the past six meetings by margins of 7, 18, 16, 13, 18 and 20 points.
Can Duke extend its long winning streak in a tough environment on Saturday night? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts have been red-hot in college basketball Best Bets, as StatFox Scott is 60% ATS (9-6) since Feb. 8, while StatFox Gary is also 60% ATS (12-8-2) in the past 12 days, improving to an impressive 56.2% ATS (82-64-3) Best Bets mark for the season. StatFox Dave is 53% ATS (32-29-1) since Jan. 28 to boost his season win percentage to 52.4% ATS (131-119-4).
Duke brings a potent offense to the table averaging 78.0 PPG, good for 10th in Division-I. Freshman G Rasheed Sulaimon (11.5 PPG) had his best game of the year in the win against Maryland on Jan. 26, tallying 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 6-for-8 from beyond the arc. Hitting at a 39.8% clip from deep, he is just one of Duke’s dangerous outside shooters. SG Seth Curry (16.5 PPG) is making 41.8% from long range while PG Quinn Cook (12.0 PPG, 5.8 APG) is hitting 40.9% of his attempts. Cook has emerged as an elite floor general (2.50 Ast/TO ratio), but has struggled with turnovers in his past two games, tallying just five assists and nine turnovers. That followed a span of 13 games in which he gave it up more than twice just two times. Ultimately though, this offense is led by PF Mason Plumlee (18.2 PPG, 10.7 RPG), a National Player of the Year candidate who scored 19 points on 9-for-12 shooting when these two teams first met. That reflects his efficiency all season—he is making 60.3% FG.
In the prior meeting, more impressive than Plumlee’s scoring were his defensive exploits, limiting Maryland star C Alex Len (12.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG) to just eight points in 34 minutes of action. Len and his 7-foot-1 are destined for the NBA Draft lottery, but he is also raw and that has shown through lately with his meager 8.8 PPG in his past four games since the Duke loss. Len and SF Dez Wells (12.0 PPG) are the team’s only double-digit scorers. Wells began the game hot against Duke, scoring a number of early points, but ultimately fell victim to Sulaimon’s exploits and finished 5-of-13 FG and 1-for-4 threes. Wells is an efficient scorer though, making 54% FG, including 58% FG in four games since the meeting with the Blue Devils. The other Maryland player to watch out for is 6-foot-6 G Nick Faust, who like the 6-foot-5 Wells, owns a size advantage over the Duke backcourt that tops out at 6-foot-4. Faust (8.3 PPG, 2.8 APG) has struggled to score this season, making 36.7% FG and 28.6% threes, but has the tools to be a dangerous player. There’s also freshman F Charles Mitchell (5.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG) who is second on the team and rebounding and actually led the Terrapins with 13 points and seven boards in just 13 minutes in the first meeting with Duke.