Duke Blue Devils vs. Virginia Cavaliers Preview and Pick

Duke Blue Devils (25-3), -5.5, o/u 157.5 @ Virginia Cavaliers (14-13), +5.5, o/u 157.5, John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Virginia, 7 p.m. Eastern, Wednesday
by Oracle of Predictem.com

It’s somewhat of an oxymoron when saying that the 6th ranked team in the nation is working out some rust. But, after losing two straight games to unranked opponents and looking very susceptible against a North Carolina State team on Saturday, fans in Durham may be a bit worried about their Duke Blue Devils.

The good news coming out of Saturday’s win is the fact that Duke came back from a 13-point deficit, showing grit and determination. The win also marked head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s 800th in his historic coaching career.

The Blue Devils will try to put together a complete game against a struggling Virginia Cavaliers team when they travel to John Paul Jones Arena in a game televised on ESPN. The Cavaliers came into the season with high hopes. Those hopes took a back seat when they lost seven straight games between January and February.

With a huge showdown between Duke and North Carolina brewing on Saturday, Virginia is hoping that Duke circled Saturday’s game on its schedule and is overlooking them.

The Cavaliers will look to avenge an 87-65 beat down by Duke back in January. In that game, Virginia struggled from the three-point line (28.6%) and committed 18 turnovers, leading to 98 total field goal attempts for Duke.

Duke, meanwhile, hit 11 triples in the game. Demarcus Nelson knocked down three by himself and scored a game-high 20 points. Gerald Henderson also played a big role with 18 points and Kyle Singler finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds.

For Virginia, Sean Singletary scored 18 points, as his 19.7 points per game is the third highest in the ACC. Singletary is a thorn in Duke’s side, as his basket last season gave the Cavaliers a last second 68-66 win, handing the Blue Devils their third loss in the last five games at John Paul Jones Arena.

Singletary will need plenty of help from his teammates if Virginia wants to upset Duke. Calvin Baker is one of those teammates. Baker made a go-ahead three-pointer with 4.2 seconds left in his team’s 78-76 win over Georgia Tech on Monday.

Baker added a nice stat line of 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals in the win.

Although Virginia’s overall record on the year isn’t immaculate, they still hold a respectful 12-10 record against the spread. They’re also 6-4 ATS at home.

For Duke, who has the third highest scoring offense in the nation (85.1 points per game), they’re 14-11-2 ATS with a 4-4 record on the road. Duke absolutely hates playing on in the middle of the week, though, as they are 3-11-1 ATS in their last 15 Wednesday games.

The good news for Duke is that the road team is 8-2-1 against the spread in the last 11 head-to-head meetings versus Virginia.

The Cavaliers have not been blown out of many games this year, especially recently, as they are 5-0 ATS in their last five overall games all against ACC opponents.

In these two teams’ first match up, the under barely came in. With somewhat of a similar over/under total this time around, bettors have to be wary. The over loves Duke, seeing as how they have one of the best offenses in the country. It’s 6-0 in their last six road games. However, in the last five head-to-head match ups against Virginia, the under is 4-1.

The general consensus is that Duke will have no problem covering (75%/25%). The Cavaliers have won three of their last four and have been playing better as of late. Duke, on the other hand, has shown signs of slowing down.

Bettors should take a second look at this line. If Duke barely beat North Carolina State a team Virginia has already beaten this year - there’s no certainty the Blue Devils are ready to take on the Cavaliers.

Oracle’s Pick: Take Virginia plus the points in a game that is sure to be a grinder and that should come down to the last few seconds.