The Duke Blue Devils open as a two point favorite against the Miami Hurricanes Friday night in the ACC conference tournament semifinal. The Blue Devils come into the contest off a dominant 96-69 win over Pittsburgh. Miami survived yet again in a close contest against Wake Forest 76-74. Miami was the ACC regular season conference champion, is the higher team in the AP poll and beat Duke by 22 a month ago. So why is Duke favored?
The Blue Devils (25) are ranked 15 spots higher in Kenpom than the Hurricanes (40). Despite all of the offense Miami is capable of, their defense is lackluster. The Cane’s 114th ranked defensive efficiency (102.8) prevents them from climbing the rankings and should continue to hold them back against the Devil’s who have the 46th ranked offensive efficiency (113.1). Duke’s offense has been extremely efficient in large part due to their ability to get to the rim. The Blue Devils dominate inside, ranking 61st in two-point field goal percentage and 8th in offensive rebounds. Duke’s front court of Mark Mitchell 6 ‘8, Dereck Lively II 7’ 1 and Kyle Flipowski 7 ‘0 should control the interior versus a Miami team that doesn’t have a starter over 6’ 7.
A Tail of Two Matchups
In Miami’s last matchup against Duke they controlled a vast majority of the game. That trend has been fairly common for a Miami team that holds a 16-1 record on their home floor this year. They also caught Duke playing just two days after an emotional win over arch rival North Carolina. Miami is just 7-4 on the road this year and 1-1 on a neutral court. This game will be played in North Carolina and should act as a home game for Duke. When these two teams met earlier this year at Cameron Indoor the Blue Devils were able to pull out a 2-point win over Miami. On a neutral court where points are much harder to come by Kyle Flipowski and Duke’s size should be the difference. Flipowski is averaging 15-9 this year, combining for 26 points and 23 boards in the two contests against the Hurricanes this season.
The experienced guard play of Jeremy Roach should help the Blue Devils down the stretch of this contest. I expect this line to continue to climb from the opening -2.5. We have already seen -3 at some sportsbooks and I could see this getting all the way to -3.5. I am gonna pass on the points and simply take Duke to advance at -150.
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