Two Top-10 teams face off in college basketball action on Monday night as the Duke Blue Devils welcome the Florida State Seminoles to Cameron Indoor Stadium. Both teams have identical 20-3 records and along with Louisville look like the cream of the crop in the ACC.
From the opening tipoff to the final buzzer we break down the best bets and predictions for this NCAA showdown.
FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES AT DUKE BLUE DEVILS (-8.5, 148)
The Blue Devils tend to get off to fast starts, putting up an average of 40.1 first-half points per game. However, they got out to a slow start against UNC on Saturday night, falling behind by as many as ten points in the first 10 minutes.
The Seminoles have won the race to 20 points in several big games in hostile territory this season; against Florida, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Louisville. At +170 they have great value to surprise the home side and hit the 20-point mark first in this contest as well.
PREDICTION: Race to 20 points Florida State (+170)
Duke has an average first-half scoring margin of plus-13.6 ppg at home and should be excited to be back in Durham after three straight games on the road. Florida State has an average first half margin of plus-1.7 ppg on the road and when it comes to their starting five, have far less talent than Mike Krzyzewski's squad.
The Seminoles terrific depth should help them in the second half but it might not make as much of a difference in the first. While the betting value is on FSU to hit the 20-point mark first, it's more likely that the Blue Devils cover the spread heading into halftime.
PREDICTION: First Half Spread Duke -4.5
Florida State has been efficient on the offensive end of the floor this season. But the Seminoles have struggled to get buckets away from Tallahasee, with one of the most extreme home/away scoring splits in the country.
The Noles convert on just 42.4 percent of their field goal attempts on the road, compared to the 49.2 percent they shoot at home. And they put up just 30.6 first-half points per game on the road, compared to 41.7 ppg at home.
The Blue Devils are probably more known for their scoring exploits, but they are also very capable at defending, ranking ninth in the country in defensive efficiency. Look for them to hold FSU Under its first half team total.
PREDICTION: First Half Team Total Florida State Under 33
Both of these teams are coming off huge offensive performances with FSU scoring 99 points against Miami and Duke putting up 98 versus North Carolina (albeit in overtime). They have also both been terrific Over bets lately with the Noles going 7-2 O/U in their last nine games and the Blue Devils 7-1 O/U over their previous eight.
The Seminoles don't have a single dynamo on offense with Devin Vassell (13.5 ppg) the only player averaging more than 12 points per game. But in some ways that makes them harder to defend because everyone in their rotation is capable of contributing to the score-sheet. They can score from anywhere on the floor and are shooting a sizzling 43 percent from beyond the arc over their last six games.
Duke has a ton of firepower with Vernon Carey Jr., Tre Jones, and Cassius Stanley all capable of going off at any given moment. The Blue Devils put up 83.1 ppg, the second-best mark in the country. While they don't shoot the 3-ball particularily well they haven't needed to with how great they've been at hitting the offensive boards. Look for these teams to go Over the total.
PREDICTION: Over 148
While both of these teams have been winning, neither has done a good job of covering the spread lately, going an identical 2-5 ATS over their last seven games. Duke has an edge in offensive firepower and the home-court advantage of the Cameron Crazies certainly helps as well, but 8.5 points is a lot to spot a scrappy team like FSU.
The Seminoles do alot of the little things well, ranking among the Top-10 in the country in blocks, steals, free throw shooting and opponent turnovers. Those things might not stand out on the stat sheet but they should help make this game closer than oddsmakers seem to think. Take the 'Noles and the points.
PREDICTION: Florida State +8.5