Duke College Basketball Odds Vs. Arizona: Will Blue Devils Cover The Spread Friday Night?
The biggest college basketball game on Friday’s schedule features No. 2 Duke as a favorite against Arizona at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Meanwhile, the Wildcats are to win outright, with a total of . Can the Blue Devils cover this big non-conference game? Let’s break down the matchup.
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Duke basketball odds vs. Arizona
After Duke opened as a 5.5-point home favorite, sportsbooks have adjusted the spread in Arizona’s favor. Per my college basketball power rankings, I have the Blue Devils listed quite a bit ahead of the Wildcats. Nevertheless, the new age of the transfer portal has made it more difficult to assess teams in the early goings. Tommy Lloyd’s bunch made a big splash in the offseason, adding former North Carolina guard Caleb Love, who helped the Tar Heels reach the 2022 national title game as a No. 8 seed.
Which Team Dictates Tempo?
In Duke’s 38-point win over Dartmouth in the season opener, the Blue Devils added 1.75 PPP in transition. Wooden Award candidate Kyle Filopowski () tallied a team-high 25 points, exploiting a smaller frontcourt. But unlike when Mike Krzyzewski roamed the sideline, head coach Jon Scheyer generally wants to play more methodically, demonstrated by the No. 303 average possession length in Division I last season.
Conversely, Tommy Lloyd’s crew has averaged a top-10 ranking in that department during his two seasons in Tucson, Ariz. On paper, the Wildcats have the size advantage and athleticism to establish their preferred pace, especially with the addition of San Diego State transfer Keshad Johnson. The 7-foot Oumar Ballo is an adept post-up defender, too, which bodes well against Filopowski.
If Love and his teammates manufacture their fair share of fast-break opportunities, Arizona could overwhelm a Duke defense that allowed a rather high 1.10 PPP on the go in 2022-23. Couple that with losing rim protector Dereck Lively, and sustaining a relatively slower tempo is necessary for the Blue Devils.
Then again, Lloyd’s improved defense must contain Tyrese Proctor, who excelled as Duke’s primary ball handler down the stretch last year. He and Jeremy Roach combined for an elite backcourt. Proctor was especially proficient in pick-and-roll sets, which the Wildcats struggled to defend. Johnson provides resistance in that regard, yet if the Blue Devils’ ball-screen offense is effective, they’ll keep the Wildcats’ quick-trigger attack at bay.
Not only will the pace go a long way in determining which team covers the spread, but it will also heavily impact the total.
Blue Devils’ Potential Missing Piece
Duke forward Mark Mitchell (ankle) is questionable for this contest as of Thursday night. Coincidentally, the sophomore forward missed the Blue Devils’ second-round matchup against Tennessee in the 2023 NCAA Tournament with a knee issue. Scheyer stated that Mitchell practiced on Wednesday, so he appears on track toward suiting up.
Should that notion come to fruition, Mitchell’s versatility and length will greatly boost Scheyer’s defense. If he sits, controlling the tempo is an even more arduous task.
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