No. 5 Duke Blue Devils (7-0), +3, o/u @ No. 9 Purdue Boilermakers (5-1), -3, o/u Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana, Tuesday, 9 p.m. Eastern
By Oracle of Predictem.com
Technically the ACC/Big Ten Challenge starts on Monday, but it’s Tuesday night’s game between two Top 10 teams in Duke (No. 5) and Purdue (No.9) that has everybody talking.
The Blue Devils look like they’re back in championship form, as they did their usual cleaning house in the month of November with a perfect 7-0 record. Looking from the outside, however, the Blue Devils beat up on the likes of teams such as Presbyterian, Georgia Southern, Montana, and barely squeaked out a win against Rhode Island.
On the other side of the coin, Purdue is looking to give Big Ten the respect they’ve been lacking for quite some time.
Known more as a physical, defense-first conference, the Boilermakers are just that, however they have athletes that can put the ball in the hole, too.
Purdue is 5-1 on the year, facing much tougher opponents in Boston College and No. 13 Oklahoma, who they lost to in overtime this past weekend.
The highly anticipated game between Purdue and Duke will be played in Lafayette at Mackey Arena, known as one of the loudest buildings in the Big Ten, where they’re 4-0 on the season.
The home game has made Purdue the favorites -3 according to most online sports wagering sites.
The Boilermakers return all five starters from last year’s team that lost to Xavier in the NCAA Tournament. E’Twaun Moore’s 16.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and just over 3 assists per game lead the balanced attack.
The big match up will be at the power forward spot, as sophomore Robbie Hummel (14.2 points, 6.5 rebounds) will clash with Duke standout Kyle Singler (16.7 points. 6.9 rebounds).
These two big men are practically from the same mold, as they can shoot from the outside and post up in the paint. They also have non-stop motors and are the emotional leaders of their team.
Assuming Hummel and Singler cancel each other out on Tuesday night, it’ll be the team with the best supporting cast that will come out on top.
The Blue Devils have a couple of go-to options, including point guard Nolan Smith, who has been filling in for the oft-injured Greg Paulus. Smith is averaging 12.4 points while Jon Scheyer (12 points) and Gerald Henderson (11.4 points) can take over a game with their offense capabilities.
Add onto that a couple players such as Lance Thomas (9.1 points), big man Brian Zoubek (6.3 points), and the crafty senior Paulus now coming off the bench, Duke is a complete squad with a ton of depth.
Purdue is no pushover offensively either. In addition to Moore and Hummel, Nemanja Calasan puts in nearly 11 points per game. JaJuan Johnson (9.8) and Keaton Gant (8.5) are also viable scorers for the Boilermakers.
Purdue did a decent job on Oklahoma’s sophomore sensation Blake Griffin in their overtime loss, as he scored a full 8 points below his 26 points per game average.
Purdue’s defense is back in top form, holding opponents to 58.5 points per game 35th in the nation, as well as just 23.7% from beyond the arc (5th in the nation).
Head to head trends for this contest mean absolutely squat, with 2003 being the year these two teams met last.
The Blue Devils have covered astoundingly for bettors against the Big Ten, going 4-0 ATS in their last four. However, they’ve had some tough luck covering back-to-back contests lately, going 1-6 ATS after covering their previous game.
Meanwhile, bettors look like they can rely on Purdue to cover after a straight up loss, going 4-0 ATS.
Purdue has had a rough go of it against the ACC, going 1-4 ATS in their last five.
The over may look like a great bet for these two high-powered teams, but looking a little closer it may be a sneaky pick. The under is 4-0 for Purdue when playing an ACC team, while it’s 6-0 following an ATS win for Duke.
It may be the beginning of December, but this contest should have a Tournament-like atmosphere to it.
Purdue has had a couple of tough tests such as Oklahoma to start the year. Meanwhile, Duke is hoping their wins against the likes of Duquesne and Presbyterian are good enough tune-ups for this one.
Oracle’s Pick: The Big Ten hasn’t faired well in these challenges the past few years. However, I think Purdue has something up their sleeves in this one. With the help of the home crowd, they show the basketball country their ranking is legit. This will be a tight one throughout, but look for Purdue to cover!