College Hoops Weekend Picks - Wake Forest at #7 Duke

Sunday, January 17: 8:00 p.m.

An underrated cross-state rivalry will be in full swing Sunday night, when the Wake Forest Demon Deacons travel across North Carolina to take on the No. 7 ranked Duke Blue Devils.

As usual under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils are rolling, having jumped out to a 14-2 start, and are coming off an impressive dismantling of Boston College on Wednesday night.

Duke will always be known for its guards, but for the first time in years, has the big men down low to compete with North Carolina, Clemson and their opponent’s Saturday, Wake Forest. While they might not score a lot, guys like Brian Zoubek, Miles Plumlee and Lance Thomas provide some much needed bulk.

Here are some NCAA Basketball Betting Trends which may impact this game:

  • Wake Forest: 2-1 ATS in their last 3 games
  • Wake Forest: 3-1 SU in their last 4 games
  • Duke: 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games
  • Duke: 9-3 ATS at home

As for the scoring, well the Blue Devils leave that to a lethal perimeter trio of Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. Scheyer is this team’s leader in both scoring and assists, and is really the engine that makes this team go. However, at times Duke can rely too much on the 6’3 senior, and as a team are working hard to have a more balanced scoring attack. In Wednesday’s, Smith had a season-high 24 points, with Singler chipping in 12 as well.

Wake Forest on the other hand counts on scoring on the inside from their best player, sophomore Al-Farouq Aminu. Aminu, who will likely be a high pick in the next NBA Draft, is the unquestioned star of this team, as he averages 17 points and 11 rebounds, and should end up a 1st Team All-ACC selection by the end of the year. Guards Ishmael Smith and L.D. Williams star in the backcourt.

Coming into this game, the key will be which team can exert its will. Will it be Wake Forest which prefers to play in the half court, or Duke which wants to run up and down. Who wins that battle will be the difference in this game.

While I expect Duke to win straight up, I believe that Wake Forest has the players on their roster to keep this game close enough to cover the college basketball betting odds. With Aminu, Chas McFarland and others down low, Wake has dominated the boards all season, ranked second in the NCAA, averaging 43 a game. Because of their strong play down low, I expect that to offset Duke’s outside shooting and keep things close.

Again, you’ve always got to give the home team the advantage in game’s that are close, but I think in regards to the point spread, Wake Forest is the safe pick. Expect the athletic Aminu to have one of his best games of the season, in what could be a national coming out party.