Five Expert Bold Predictions for 2018 March Madness

Duke at NC State NCAAB Betting Prediction & Pick for Saturday

Written by Jordan Walters on Thursday,January 4, 2018 8:19, EDT

No. 2 Duke has played in just two true road games all season, a hard-fought win at Indiana on Nov. 29 and an upset loss at Boston College on Dec. 9. The Devils are back on the road for the first time in 2018 on Saturday as they visit Tobacco Road rival NC State as predicted NCAAB betting favorites. Check back for our latest online sportsbook odds for the matchup.

Duke at NC State NCAAB Betting Prediction & Pick for Saturday

When: Saturday, 8 PM ET
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh
TV: ESPN
Stream: WatchESPN
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network (Duke) / Wolfpack Sports Network Radio Affiliates (NC State)
Opening NCAAB Betting Lines: TBA

Last Season

The Blue Devils and Wolfpack should be playing twice every regular season considering their rivalry, but that’s not always the case. They aren’t scheduled to in 2017-18 and only played one last year. That was an NC State 84-82 upset at Duke. It was the Wolfpack’s first win at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995. NC State rallied from 12 down late in the first half, and used a 20-5 run to erase a 68-59 deficit in the final 6 1/2 minutes. Dennis Smith Jr., now a rookie star for Dallas, had 32 points for NC State. Jayson Tatum, a rookie star right now for Boston, had 16 points to lead Duke.

Why Bet on Duke?

The No. 2 Blue Devils (13-1, 1-1) have the most overall talent of any team in the country but they’ve had defensive issues all season. They’ve allowed more than one point per possession in eight games, including 1.15 against Florida State last time out. When Duke plays zone, it’s better defensively but Mike Krzyzewski wants to play man-to-man. Boston College beat Duke using mostly ball screens against man-to-man.

Despite being the most efficient offensive team in the nation, Duke ranks No. 81 in defensive efficiency. The Blue Devils have struggled in particular in defending from beyond the arc, ranking No. 222 in the nation in 3-point percentage.

Duke beat No. 24 Florida State last Saturday, 100-93. Wendell Carter Jr. and Marvin Bagley III dominated the interior for the Blue Devils, combining for 37 rebounds — more than the entire Seminoles’ team. As a whole, Duke outrebounded Florida State 53-35. They did it despite foul trouble as both Carter and Bagley played for long stretches with four fouls apiece. Bagley reached the 30-point mark (32) for the third time this season, while setting a Duke freshman record with 21 rebounds. He was named ACC Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season.

It stands as the seventh 30-20 game in school history, the first at Duke in 48 years, and the first by an ACC freshman. His 11 offensive rebounds in the game were also a Duke freshman record, and he tied Duke’s freshman record with 13 made field goals. With 21.9 points and 11.6 rebounds, Bagley is the ACC’s leading scorer and rebounder. He is second in the NCAA in doubles-doubles (11), and is the NCAA’s second-leading freshman scorer and rebounder. He could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft.

Duke is the only team ranked among the NCAA’s top 10 in scoring (94.2; 2nd), rebounds (44.7; 3rd) and assists (20.8; 1st). The Blue Devils also lead the nation in rebound margin (+12.8) and are sixth in scoring margin (+21.7).

Why Bet on NC State?

The Wolfpack are in a bit of a rebuilding season after losing Smith to the NBA and firing coach Mark Gottfried. The new coach is Kevin Keatts. He came to NC State after three seasons as head coach of UNC Wilmington. With the Seahawks, Keatts complied a record of 72-28 (.720) and a 41-13 (.759) mark in Colonial Athletic Association play. UNCW qualified for each of the past two NCAA tournaments.

The 2016-17 UNC-Wilmington team won a school-record 29 games as the team led the conference and ranked 10th in the nation in scoring heading into the NCAA Tournament, averaging 85.2 points per game. Prior to his time in Wilmington, he was a member of Rick Pitino’s staff at Louisville, helping the Cardinals to a pair of Final Fours, a Sweet 16 and the 2013 NCAA title.

“The disappointing thing for me is, with this team, we have a low margin for error,” Keatts said after the Wolfpack’s 78-62 loss at Clemson last Saturday. “When you look at us, we are not as talented as most teams in the ACC.”

Is NC State a safe bet on Saturday?

Senior forward Abdul-Malik Abu was slowed early this season by a sprained knee ligament. Starting point guard Markell Johnson was suspended Dec.14 after he being indicted for felony assault. Even with Abu back in the starting lineup, Keatts is using an eight-man rotation.

Keatts has his team playing fast. NC State has scored in 100+ three times this season, the most since doing it four times in the 1995-96 season. The Pack has defeated Jacksonville, 116-64, VMI, 102-67, & South Carolina State, 103-71.

Braxton Beverly currently ranks second in the ACC with a 3.06 assist-to-turnover ratio. The freshman guard has had only one game this season with more turnovers than assists and has had one turnover or fewer in eight of the 12 games he’s played in this season. Keatts also came to Raleigh promising that his program would pressure the opponents full court and create turnovers. The Pack have forced eight of their opponents into 16+-turnovers. Four times, the Pack have forced opponents into 20 or more turnovers in a single game.

Expert Prediction & NCAAB Betting Pick

Duke will be a double-digit favorite without question. But NC State will play like its Super Bowl and lose by less than 10.