No. 9 Duke Blue Devils (20-5) at St. Johns Red Storm (12-13)
St. John Arena, Columbus, O.H., 7:00PM Eastern, Thursday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The No. 9 Duke Blue Devils have been on a mudslide over the last few weeks with some very disappointing performances. The Blue Devils skid started with a huge loss to Clemson back in the first week of February by the score of 74-47. The 27 point loss marked one of the biggest defeats of the Coach K error and the Blue Devils have yet to rebound strong as many would have expected. Duke has now lost 4 of their last 6 games heading into Columbus, Ohio on Thursday to take on St. Johns and they will try to avoid any more disappointing performances. The Red Storm has not had the year they would have liked, but they are a very young team with a lot of room to grow. St. Johns is on a 4 game losing streak and they will try to end that by grabbing a big win the prestigious Duke Blue Devil program.
The Red Storm is rather youthful through their starting lineup with 4 sophomores likely to make up the starting 5 this Thursday night. Sophomore Paris Horne leads the Red Storm scoring attack posting 15 points every performance and will need to be big on Thursday night to take down the Blue Devils. St. Johns stands at a 12-13 mark on the year. However, they do play in very possibly the best conference in America which is the Big East and they should not be taken as an ordinary 12-13 opponent.
Duke on the other hand was for much of the year the best team in the ACC, and even reached the nations number 1 ranking before losing 4 of their last 6. The Blue Devils are struggling in all aspects of the game. Their scoring is down and they are giving up a lot more points than they have all season. The Blue Devils lead the ACC in scoring defense at 63 points per game. However, in their last 4 losses they have given up on average a total of 81 points in all of those disappointing performances. Duke will try to use an out of conference opponent to help get them back in the groove in conference play.
Hoops bookies have the betting line favoring the Duke Blue Devils by 11 points evenly. The over/under for the contest stands at 136 as both teams have tended to have really low scoring affairs.
St. Johns is only averaging 66 points per game this year in one of the premier scoring conferences in America. However, the Red Storm is only allowing 66 points defensively on the season as well. If St. Johns could come up with a solid defensive effort, then it could go along way against a Blue Devil team that has been struggling to put the ball in the hoop. Anthony Mason Jr and D.J Kennedy will assist Horne in leading the upset. Both Mason and Kennedy are averaging double figures and all have the ability to post big numbers.
The Blue Devils have talented sophomore as well leading the team in scoring. Kyle Singler is averaging 16.4 points per game and is coming off two straight 20 plus point nights. Junior Gerald Henderson has also been a big force late this season. Henderson has yet to score under 16 points in his last 11 games. Singler and Henderson will try to ignite the Blue Devils offense that has been sputtering of late. The most intriguing part of the Blue Devis to watch is the defense. Earlier this year Duke seemed to have one of the best defenses in America conquering the best scoring offenses in the nation. The Blue Devils need their defense to return if they plan on returning to the national spotlight.
St. Johns is 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games; however the Red Storm is 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games at home. The total has reached the under side in 5 of 7 of St. Johns previous games as well. Duke is 1-5 ATS in their past 6 games while reaching the under in 11 of the past 14 games.
Jays Pick – Duke will get back on track and lay a SERIOUS spanking on the Red Storm tonight!