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No. 1 Duke and No. 3 Gonzaga Tip Off in Maui Invitational Final

Duke vs Gonzaga Betting Odds

For the second time this season, the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils are taking on a top-five ranked team in the nation, this time the No. 3 Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Maui Invitational final. Both teams enter this contest with perfect 5-0 records, with Duke sporting an average winning margin of 25.2 and Gonzaga’s at 24.8. The Blue Devils are 3-0 all-time vs the Bulldogs and are a 6.5-point favorite with the total opening at 164 points.

Shark Bites
  • Duke is 3-0 SU and ATS all-time in three games vs Gonzaga.
  • The total has gone UNDER in Duke’s last four games (avg. combined score: 150.0).
  • The total has gone UNDER in Gonzaga’s last eight games vs the Atlantic Coast.

Duke vs Gonzaga Game Center

Blue Devils coming off Their closest game of the season

Duke didn’t trail once in its second-round triumph over No. 8 Auburn last night, but it was the closest finish for the Blue Devils this season as they eked out a 78-72 victory. One of the keys for the Tigers was their ability to grab offensive boards and they were able to achieve success in that area, but the Blue Devils were still too much to handle as they attacked the rim offensively, earning 34 free-throw attempts. For the first time this season, each of the five starters scored double-digit points, three of them also grabbed nine rebounds each and center Marques Bolden had a career-high seven blocks.

The defense has been strong for the Blue Devils this season, allowing 72 or fewer points in four of five games, the lone outlier coming when they allowed 84 vs then-No. 2 Kentucky in the season opener. They are a tough team to shoot against as they contest a lot of shots and for that reason, they lead the nation with 7.60 blocks per game and limit second chances by snatching the eighth-most rebounds in college basketball at 46.6.

Gonzaga looks to derail Duke hype train

The Bulldogs are averaging 98.6 points per game, which ranks in a tie for third in the nation, but they’ve yet to face a ranked team this season. They rack up a pile of points because of their great shooting percentage as they hit 53.3 percent of their shots, which is the ninth-best rate in the NCAA. Gonzaga is led by junior forward Rui Hachimura, who is averaging 23 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, his best career stats thus far. He is also taking 14.4 shots per game, nearly double his 7.6 field-goal attempts last season.

Gonzaga is doing a good job cleaning the glass through its five games this season, grabbing 43 rebounds per game, which is ranked 31st in college basketball, but it only secures 12 offensive rebounds per game. However, in the same vein, the Bulldogs limit their opponent’s offensive boards, surrendering 10.8 offensive rebounds per game. That will make for an interesting battle with the Blue Devils, who average the 19th-most offensive boards per game at 15.2. One area of concern for the Zags is they are averaging 12.8 turnovers per game, which ranks in a tie for 107th in the league. Giving Duke extra opportunities is a risky game to play.

UNDER trending in tonight’s game

There are signs pointing toward an UNDER for tonight’s game and BetOnline has the total opening at 164 points. The average combined score in the last seven Maui Invitational finals is 131.71 and only one final has gone over 164 points since 2005. Meanwhile, the total has gone UNDER in each of the Blue Devils’ last four games with an average combined score of 150 and the total has gone UNDER in the Bulldogs’ last eight games vs the ACC. Lastly, each of Duke’s three all-time games vs Gonzaga has gone UNDER, with an average combined score of 116.67, but they haven’t met since 2015.

My take on Gonzaga vs Duke

I like Duke to cover the 6.5-point spread. The Blue Devils have won every game this year by six or more points, with last night’s game being the only one they didn’t win by double digits. Meanwhile, Gonzaga hasn’t played a ranked team yet this year and it’ll be interesting to see how it can rise to a high-pressure situation. The Bulldogs were trailing Arizona by eight in the first half of last night’s game and if they scuffle like that today, they are in trouble. Lastly, Gonzaga averages 19.2 fouls per game, which ranks in a tie for 162nd in the NCAA, and if Zion Williamson can get Rui Hachimura in foul trouble, the Blue Devils should be able to roll. 

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