Clemson Tigers vs. Duke Blue Devils Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Clemson Tigers (12-2 SU, 7-4 ATS) vs. Duke Blue Devils (11-1 SU, 7-4 ATS), 7:45 p.m. EST, Sunday, January 3, 2009, Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C. TV: FCS Atlantic
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Clemson +10.5/Duke -10.5
Over/Under: 148.5

The Clemson Tigers haven’t won at Cameron Indoor Stadium since January 4, 1995, but they will try to end that 15-year streak at Duke on Sunday night.

Duke holds a 54-4 edge all-time at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Clemson. The Blue Devils haven’t lost a home game to a team other than North Carolina since February 2007.

The Blue Devils have an 11-1 record with their only loss coming at Wisconsin. They’ve picked up quality wins over Arizona State, Connecticut, St. John’s and Gonzaga. They have won five games in a row, the last four of which have come by more than 20 points. After a 45-point win over Gardner-Webb and an emphatic 35-point victory over Gonzaga at Madison Square Garden, the Blue Devils won by 21 over Long Beach State on Tuesday and by 59 over winless Penn on Thuesday.

Clemson holds a 12-2 record with its two losses coming to Texas A&M on a neutral court and to Illinois at home in a game where the Tigers held a 23-point lead in the second half. Since the loss to Illinois, the Tigers have won six games in a row, the first five of which came by more than 10 points. They won their last game by just three points at home over South Carolina State on Tuesday. The Tigers have picked up quality wins over Butler, South Carolina and Western Carolina.

Clemson has won the last two games against Duke, including an easy 74-47 victory last season.

Duke is led by the trio of Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. Scheyer, the team’s point guard, is leading the team in scoring with 18.6 points per game and in assists with 6.4 per game. He has a better than 5-to-1 turnovers-to-assists ratio. He is shooting 43.6 percent from 3-point range and 91.0 percent from the free throw line. Smith is shooting 52.5 percent from beyond the arc and averaging 18 points per game. Singler, perhaps Duke’s best all-around player, is averaging 15.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game but isn’t yet playing his basketball this season after transitioning from power forward to small forward.

Clemson only has one player it really relies on to have a strong performance every game – Trevor Booker. The 6-foot-7 senior big man is averaging 14.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Other than Booker, players like Tanner Smith, Demontez Stitt, Andre Young and David Potter are all capable of stepping up in any given game as the second or third scoring options.

Clemson uses a full-court press defense. The Tigers are one of the best teams in college basketball at forcing turnovers, as their opponents are averaging 19.5 per game. The Blue Devils are very good at protecting the ball, as they turn the ball over only 11.3 times per game. Clemson shoots a very high percentage from the field at 49.3 percent, including 37.6 percent from 3-point range. But the Blue Devils are right behind them at 48.4 percent from the field and are shooting a remarkable 43.3 percent as a team from beyond the arc, while their opponents are making just 29.5 percent of their 3-pointers and 37.5 percent from the field.

Clemson has Duke’s number the last two times they’ve played each other, especially in the 27-point blowout last season, but both of those games were at Clemson. Duke still rarely ever loses at home, and Clemson hasn’t won at Duke in 15 years. To win at Cameron Indoor, the Tigers will have to play near-flawless basketball. That means Smith, Stitt, Young and Potter will have to shoot lights out from 3-point range and Booker will have to stay out of foul trouble. The Tigers also have to force a lot of turnovers like they have been doing all season long.

Despite not winning at Duke in 15 years, the Tigers do have a 5-2 ATS mark in their last seven games at Duke. Clemson is 5-0 ATS in its last five games and 5-2 ATS in its last seven games as an underdog. Duke is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games and also 6-2 ATS in its last eight games as a home favorite. The over is 10-1 in Clemson’s last 11 games as a road underdog.

Ryno’s Pick: Even though Clemson dominated Duke last season, it’s highly unlikely that Duke will lose this game at home. But the Tigers are too good of a team to be getting double digits. The Tigers will come to play and keep it close the whole way through. Take Clemson +10.5.