Michigan State vs Duke – Odds, Pick & Prediction

A great early season college basketball matchup featuring two hall of fame coaches and top ranked teams. The Michigan State Spartans take on the Duke Blue Devils in the Champions Classic in Indianapolis tonight at 7pm EST.

Current Odds: Duke -6.5

Michigan State is coming off an Elite 8 run in 2013 but they lost key contributors Gary Harris and Adreian Payne to the NBA.  Duke is coming off an NCAA Tournament last season that they would like to forget after losing to 14th ranked Mercer.  Duke also lost two key contributors in Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker to the NBA.  Parker was a top recruit of the 2013 class that had an outstanding season but he failed to lead the Blue Devils in the NCAA Tournament.

The Spartans return 3 seniors including Branden Dawson but they aren’t expected to have a typical Michigan State season.  However, if there is anything we have learned about coach Tom Izzo is that he can lead a team regardless of it’s star power.

The Blue Devils reloaded by bringing in top recruits Jahil Okafor, Justice Winslow, Grayson Allen and return guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon.  Duke is (2-0) on the season and have scored 113 and 109 points in the first two games.  It’s safe to say that Duke is off to a good start and will not lack offensive production this season.

Trends

Duke is 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall.

Spartans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. Atlantic Coast.

Spartans are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 neutral site games

Analysis: Duke is favored by -6.5 in tonight’s matchup which may seem like a lot of points to a Tom Izzo team.  It may also seem like a risky bet to lay -6.5 points on a Duke team that relies on a new freshman crop of talent.  The Spartans may keep it close in the first half but the talent of Michigan State does not matchup to Duke.  It may take a while for the nerves to calm down for the young Duke team but MSU doesn’t have an answer for 6-11 Jahil Okafor who could be a dominate force in college basketball this season.  Michigan State doesn’t have a player over 6-9 which could prove difficult down low in the post vs Duke.  After studying the two games played this season the Blue Devils seem to be a different team than recent years.  The offense goes through Okafor as opposed to their typical approach which is perimeter shooting.  This approach fares well in the NCAA Tournament because when the 3-point shots aren’t falling there was nothing to fall back on.

Pick: Take the Blue Devils -6.5 and trust that Coach K has his young team prepared to take on the veteran Michigan State squad.  It may take a half to get their bearings but Duke is a deep team and they have veteran leadership at the guard position which will help them control the pace.  Duke is back to a pressing defense which will be a tough challenge for Michigan State.

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