Duke vs. Syracuse Picks & Props February 18: Give the Blue Devils Their Due

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Tyrese Proctor #5 of the Duke Blue Devils dunks against the Virginia Cavaliers. Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images/AFP.

NCAAB Pick: Duke -1.5 (-110) at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review)

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Duke -1.5 (-110)
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I get it: Everyone hates Duke. Everyone who doesn’t love basketball, that is. The Blue Devils have been the leading brand in college hoops for a long time now – even before Mike Krzyzewski became their head coach, and even after he retired last year.

The betting public is supposed to love the favorites, but fatigue does set in after a while; think of the New England Patriots during the later years of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady regime. It’s okay, you’re safe now.

Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange used to have a lot of fans, too. Now people are just begging for Boeheim to join Krzyzewski at the retirement lodge. He’s like the Dianne Feinstein of college basketball; last week, the 78-year-old Boeheim said he’d “probably” come back for another year.

Syracuse’s non-loss is our gain. Saturday’s home game against Duke opened as a pick ‘em on the NCAAB odds, and while the sharps have driven the Blue Devils to -1.5 in early betting, our preferred projections still have Duke winning 71-69 or thereabouts.

Duke Blue Devils vs. Syracuse Orange

Saturday, February 18, 2023 – 06:00 PM EST at JMA Wireless Dome

Is Syracuse That Bad?

They are now. According to the fine folks at Sports Reference, the Orange (16-10 SU, 15-10-1 ATS) are playing their worst basketball in over 40 years. Their plus-7.74 on the Simple Rating System is their lowest since 1981-82, during their first rebuilding period under Boeheim.

Even that team finished with a winning record, though. Last year’s Orange went 15-16 (14-17 ATS), their only losing season since Boeheim took over during the Ford Administration.

Suffice to say Boeheim isn’t part of the new basketball culture, with the revolving-door transfers and the NIL deals and whatnot. He even shook his fist at ACC rivals Pittsburgh, Miami, and Wake Forest earlier this month, claiming they had all “bought a team” with those dollar bills.

Boeheim later recanted and said he “absolutely misspoke” about Pitt and Wake Forest. But you get the idea; Syracuse isn’t part of this new way of doing business, and they only have three Top 100 RSCI prospects on their current roster, with freshman guard Judah Mintz (plus-2.7 BPM) the only one playing particularly well.

So Why Are the Orange Winning Now?

Strength of schedule. With Krzyzewski no longer at Duke, and Roy Williams retiring from North Carolina last year, the ACC has fallen off a cliff, dropping to seventh in the conference rankings at Sports Reference behind the Mountain West. So much for the Big Six.

Syracuse has also enjoyed a relatively easy February thus far. Their current three-game winning streak was built on the backs of the following teams:

  • Boston College (+3.5 at home)
  • Florida State (+3.5 at home)
  • North Carolina State (+1 away)

Admittedly, NC State (plus-13.6 SRS) isn’t that bad, but BC (plus-0.3) and FSU (minus-0.1) certainly are. Maybe the Orange just needed a couple of lay-ups to get themselves back on track, but they’ll have to step it up again this Saturday when Duke (plus-13.8) comes to town.

What Else Can I Bet On?

Given the projections we quoted above, there’s only room for a fun-size college basketball pick on Duke -1.5, and it’s an even slighter lean towards the Under at 141 points. It wouldn’t be prudent to throw a lot of money at that line, considering Syracuse has the nation’s No. 69 offense and No. 119 defense on Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency charts.

Duke can help us out, though. They rank No. 73 on offense and No. 31 on defense, and they get in just 65.9 possessions per game (No. 269). This is a big drop-off from last year’s top-ranked offense under Krzyzewski; Jon Scheyer has tons of prospects to work with, but these things take time.

Fortunately for us, the NCAAB player props for Saturday have already come out as we go to press, and there’s a long list of props with some betting value attached. It’s almost de rigueur at this point to take whichever team you’re betting on – Duke in this case – and use that single bet as camouflage so you can run a tasty prop through without setting off any alarms.

Make it a Duke, though; we’re targeting freshman guard Tyrese Proctor (3.2 rebounds per game) going Over 2.5 rebounds. With the vig set at -130 at North Carolina betting sites, it’s just the right thing to do – and a tasty way to do it.

NCAAB Pick: Under 141 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Under 141 (-110)
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NCAAB Pick: Tyrese Proctor Over 2.5 Rebounds (-130) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Tyrese Proctor Over 2.5 Rebounds (-130)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.