By Charles Jay
It was a nice evening last night as we made a tiny little WagerWAR comeback, as the Seattle Seahawks held off Minnesota, dropping Kirk Cousins’ Monday Night Football record to 0-8 straight-up and against the spread. Sometimes you’ve got to place at least a little stock in those kinds of trends, but that’s another story for another time.
On to Tuesday’s basketball slate, where we will focus on the college ranks. I was intrigued by a couple of games in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge, which is one of those events that was devised by ESPN.
One of the better games in that package involved Louisville and Michigan, but I focused on a couple of others.
Of course, I couldn’t resist taking a long look at the Duke-Michigan State game (scheduled for 9 PM ET in East Lansing). The Blue Devils beat Winthrop in a bit of a warm-up, but they recently had a 150-game winning streak at home against non-conference opponents broken against Stephen F. Austin, which is improved but still not the pick to win the Southland Conference.
Here’s the WagerWAR college basketball betting line:
Michigan State Spartans -6.5
Duke Blue Devils +6.5
Over 144 points -110
Under 144 points -110
In the season opener, Duke forced Kansas into 28 turnovers, but still was able to win by only two points. They are not all that formidable at the free throw line. And they are very young, with four freshmen starting. But they hit the boards with a ferocity that mitigates any advantages Michigan State may appear to have in that area. Vernon Carey is a load inside, at 6-10, 270 pounds, and I’m not sure that Xavier Tillman can contain him.
And the other notable matchup here, which involves All-American guard Cassius Winston of the Spartans against Tre Jones of Duke, while not a standoff, is competitive. I’m not sure MSU is going to get the edge out they expected.
Duke is pretty active defensively; I think they’ll force some turnovers. It is true that Michigan State has a real edge in terms of experience; Duke has become another of those “one-and-done” schools that has to refuel every year (I wonder what Bob Knight thinks of the new methods of his protege, Mike Krzyzewski). But they have refueled with four frosh who were among the top 40 recruits in the country, with Carey being right near the top. So don’t make the mistake of thinking there isn’t talent.
Duke is shooting threes better than it did last season, so you’ll see guys like Matthew Hurt and Cassius Stanley throw them up there. And you know, Michigan State’s second best player, Joshua Langford, might be out for the year, and that’s been a big blow. Tom Izzo says his team is just catching up with a lot of things, including the death of Winston’s brother and the long trip to the Maui Invitational, where they lost to Virginia Tech.
These teams took a big drop in the rankings – Duke went from #1 to #10 in the Associated Press poll, while Michigan State went from #3 to #11. The wiseguys hit this number and drove it upward; I am happy to be on the long end of that move, as I’m getting the 6-1/2.
In a separate piece, I’ll take you through my rationale in the Florida State-Indiana game.
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