Duke Blue Devils Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Duke Blue Devils (17-3 SU, 12-6-1 ATS) vs. Georgetown Hoyas (15-4 SU, 8-7 ATS), 1:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, January 30, 2009, Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. TV: CBS
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Duke -1.5/Georgetown +1.5
Over/Under: 141.5

A pair of top-10 teams meet in the nation’s capital on Saturday afternoon, as the Georgetown Hoyas host the Duke Blue Devils at the Verizon Center.

Duke has not been very good on the road this season. The Blue Devils lost their first three road games at Wisconsin, at Georgia Tech and at NC State, before finally getting a road win last Saturday at Clemson, 60-47. Duke has had quality wins this season over Charlotte, Arizona State, UConn, St. John’s, Gonzaga, Clemson twice, Iowa State, Boston College, Wake Forest and Florida State.

In their last game, the Blue Devils won 70-56 at home over Florida State on Wednesday. Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, the three players who have carried them all season long, were the three Blue Devils to score in double figures. Scheyer led the way with 22 points, Singler scored 20, and Smith had 11. Duke shot 43 percent from the field and 8-for-22 on 3-pointers and was out-rebounded by nine, but the Blue Devils won the game with turnovers. They only committed 10 turnovers and forced 22 of them. It’s hard to win games with a turnover differential like FSU had in that game.

The Hoyas are 9-1 at home this season with their only loss coming to Old Dominion, 61-57, on December 19. They started off with an 11-1 record before losing three of their last seven games. They’ve had quality wins this season over Temple, Butler, Washington, Harvard, St. John’s, UConn, Seton Hall and Pittsburgh, while losing to Old Dominion, Marquette, Villanova and Syracuse.

In their last game, the Hoyas lost at Syracuse on Monday, 73-56. Austin Freeman, who has been on fire lately, led everyone with 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field and 4-for-7 on 3-pointers. Jason Clark chipped in with 15 points. Against Syracuse’s big frontline, Greg Monroe was very quiet with eight points, four rebounds and six turnovers. He has to show up against another big frontline in Duke for the Hoyas to win this game. Against Syracuse, Georgetown committed 19 turnovers and allowed Syracuse to shoot 53 percent from the field, both numbers that severely must improve to win big games like the Hoyas have Saturday afternoon.

Freeman is averaging 20.1 points per game in his last seven games and 16.0 points per game for the season after averaging 11.4 last season. He’s also shooting 47.3 percent from 3-point range after shooting just 30.6 percent last season.

Georgetown’s shooting statistics have gotten better in conference play while Duke’s have gotten worse. In conference play, the Hoyas’ field goal percentage has gone up from 49 percent to 50 percent and their 3-point shooting has gone up from 40 percent to 44 percent. Duke’s 3-point shooting has gone down from 39 percent all the way to 29 percent, while their overall shooting went down from 47 percent to 44 percent. Duke’s 3-point defense is solid at just 27 percent and the Blue Devils are forcing nearly 16 turnovers per game, but Georgetown is usually good at home at protecting the ball and shooting from the outside. If the Hoyas can win the turnover battle and knock down some outside shots, they have a good shot at winning this game.

Duke is 4-1 ATS in its last five games overall. Georgetown is 5-1 ATS in its last six games following an ATS loss and 4-10 ATS in its last 14 home games. In the last five meetings between these teams, the over is 4-1, Georgetown is 3-1-1 ATS, the underdog is 3-1-1 ATS, and the road team is 3-1-1 ATS.

Duke won this game at home last season, 76-67.

Ryno’s Pick: Georgetown can’t win this game unless Monroe has a great game. Last year against Duke, he had 12 points and six rebounds. That’s not good enough. He has to dominate Duke’s big men. It takes a full team effort to beat a team like Duke, so Freeman and Chris Wright also need to play well. For Duke to win, it has to hit its outside shots, something the Blue Devils haven’t been doing well lately. If Scheyer, Smith and Singler can each hit a few 3-pointers, they will be tough to stop. After losing to Duke last season, Georgetown could use a revenge win at home. Duke did win at Clemson but still hasn’t been very good on the road. The Hoyas will pound the ball inside and control the temp of this game. Who covers the spread is anybody’s guess. I’m taking the Under 141.5 and enjoying what should be a very tough battle for points.