Duke vs. Ohio State Men’s Basketball Props Paris
No.1 men’s basketball Duke takes on Ohio State on the road in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge on Tuesday night. The blue zone is therefore back with our accessory bets not to be missed for the match:
Duke (-3.5) vs. Ohio State
Duke is the best team in the country and Ohio State is unranked, but this game will be closer than many think.
Both of Duke’s away games have been on-site games, and there has been a formidable Blue Devil contingent in New York and Las Vegas that will likely not be present in pure Buckeye territory. Over the past week, Ohio State basketball lost to a buzzer-beater to Florida and Ohio State football lost to Michigan. Expect Buckeye’s loyalists to come in droves to avenge their college name against the No.1 college basketball team.
Duke is proven in the bright lights, but the hostiles are a whole different beast. Add to that his commute time and exhaustion after facing Gonzaga on Friday, where cramps were an issue again, and Duke’s climb only gets steeper.
However, consider this. Even though the Blue Devils are shaking and tired surrounded by a sea of red and white, they just knocked down so-No. 1 Gonzaga while shooting 60.0% from the line, well below their season average of 78.3% entering the game, and while having two starters, a combined 5 of 24 on the ground. Duke can shoot sub-optimally and probably still well, as long as he’s playing good defense, which is likely.
Ohio State only has one player averaging over 10 points per game: forward EJ Liddell, who is currently averaging a ridiculous 22.5 points per game. However, Duke has done an admirable job all season locking down the interior. In their first half against Gonzaga, the Blue Devils kept star forward Drew Timme to just nine points and top rookie Chet Holmgren to six. If they can replicate that defensive strategy against Ohio State and Liddell, the Blue Devils will likely come home with a win. And since the books seem to have explained the adversity of a road game with a small spread, chances are they will cover too.
Picks: Duke -3.5
Over / Under 147 points
Now let’s talk about a more fun question: will excess hit? I’ll go with yes.
For the reasons I put forward above, I don’t think Duke will play his best game of the season on Tuesday. It will contain Liddell to some extent, but the Buckeyes will be able to exploit a little sloppiness. In their last three games – two against ranked opponents, plus Xavier, who briefly reached the top 25 – the Buckeyes are averaging just under 73.7 points per game, and it probably holds up.
Keep in mind that the combined average point total of the two teams only needs to be 73.5 for the most to be hit.
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On the flip side, while Duke may be a bit fragile in Columbus, he just has too much firepower to be contained so much. Three players are averaging over ten points per game and Mark Williams is averaging 9.9. Together in their last three games, the Blue Devils are averaging 93 points. It’s easy.
That includes an outlier of 107 points against The Citadel, you say? OK so. Against more comparable opponents, Kentucky and Gonzaga, the Blue Devils averaged 81.5 points. Subtracting a few for the tremors gives us, in my opinion, a pretty reasonable estimate of how Duke performed against Ohio State. The top always hits.
But just for fun, let’s be really tough while estimating Duke’s score. The team’s seasonal average for points per game is 85.6 with a standard deviation of 11.4. If we assume that the Blue Devils’ score is roughly normally distributed (support me here), we can say that there is about an 84% chance that Duke will score at least 74.2 points, a full standard deviation in below its season average.
So even in the unlikely worst-case scenario where the Blue Devils score well below their average while also conceding the recent Ohio State clip, the pass still hits, even barely.
Men lie, women lie, but statistics don’t. The top will strike.
Pick: More than 147 points
Team to score first
You’ve made it this far, so I’ll be brief. Ohio State will score the first, although Duke ends up winning.
The Buckeyes are coming off almost a week off and they’ll be backed by an electric crowd. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils will likely have a slow start for the reasons discussed above. As such, Ohio State will use their home advantage to score the first. Maybe that puts the Blue Devils in good shape and they go ahead scoring at their usual pace. However, for the first basket, I choose the home team.
Pick: Ohio State -115
Sasha Richie is a junior at Trinity and the Blue Zone editor-in-chief of The Chronicle’s 117th volume.