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Adam Trigger

Adam Trigger

(657) NC State at (658) Duke

(657) NC State at (658) Duke
March 31, 2024 5PM EDT
Play Rating:
4% – Duke -7.0 (-110)

Duke (5:05PM ET CBS) – Illinois goes from a 23-23 tie with a minute to go in the first half to being down 53-23 and getting blown out.  The fact UCONN has been able to roll like this with zero adversity in any tournament game (THE PAST TWO YEARS) is truly incredible, it’s something I was willing to fade this past weekend and simply got wrong but I know I’m right about the NC State Wolfpack not being an elite team and I’ll look for today to be the day NC State “turns into a pumpkin” when they take on the Duke Blue Devils in the South Region Final at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

NC State’s run has been incredible, there’s no question this Wolf Pack team has improved from what they were back in January/February when I was most critical of them but their run to a regional final hasn’t been without some very good fortune.  Oakland had the last shot in regulation against NC State in a tie game where, even with the overtime sweat and subsequent melt we were still correct on Oakland +6.5. The fact NC State was one bucket away from losing to a Horizon League team that sat in a zone the entire game should have made the task at hand simple for Marquette, but the Golden Eagles came out with a lazy approach and went 4/31 from three allowing NC State to play from ahead and control the game.  That’s not going to happen here, this Duke team has always been offensively gifted but have ramped it up in the toughness department the past month or so.   Duke was a team that got pushed around inside at times earlier this season but two days ago was the more physical team against a Houston team that was widely considered to be one of the “toughest” teams in the country.  Duke fits the profile of a NCAA Tournament champion, the Blue Devils are now 7th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 14th in adjusted defensive efficiency and have improved on their shot blocking and rebounding numbers over the past 30 days. NC State is starting to take better shots but it’s going to take a lights out shooting effort for the Wolf Pack to win here and even if NC State exceeds their shooting average (which is barely Top 200 nationally) they would still need to avoid a big shooting night from Duke which I think is the most likely thing to happen here.

This will be the third meeting between these two teams and I don’t see any way Duke doesn’t adjust and revert this scoreline back to what we saw in the first meeting.  Duke rolled into Raliegh on the first Monday night in May and destroyed a NC State team that desperately needed a win 79-64.  NC State got revenge in the ACC Tournament but, as I do with many of the top seeds, I’ll question how much Duke really wanted to be there (remember that was a Thursday quarterfinal game after NC State had already played back to back nights and had all the momentum).  I think having the week off did Duke some good, the Blue Devils have been laser focused since the NCAA Tournament started with blowouts of Vermont and James Madison followed by winning a slug fest with Houston.  The win over Houston is the most encouraging result because it showed me Duke has an answer to getting “punched in the mouth”.  That’s also not NC State’s game, the Wolf Pack lack a traditional big man and I fully expect the Blue Devils to have figured out how to slow 300 pounder DJ Burns.  For as poorly as Marquette played, the Golden Eagles figured out how to take Burns out of the game by applying pressure beyond half court and tiring Burns out by putting him in ball screens and PNR.  Burns scored just four points in 27 minutes on the court and NC State’s offense wasn’t overly efficient, the Pack simply benefitted from Marquette missing EVERYTHING. Duke isn’t going to miss shots, this is a Blue Devils team that hits 48.3 percent from the field and has been one of the top three point shooting teams in the country this season.  Duke also has three guards that have been ELITE at knocking down mid-range jumpers and, of course, Kyle Filipowski who is easily the most versatile 7 footer in the country.  Duke would have to play exceptionally bad to lose this game which I don’t think is happening right now.  I think this is where the luck finally runs out for NC State and Duke rolls to a blowout win. Play on Duke -7 (-110) for 4% (or 4 units) 

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