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Duke Will Need More Than Luck To Beat Michigan State

Duke center Marques Bolden (20) and forward RJ Barrett (5) begin to celebrate after Virginia Tech guard Ahmed Hill, lower left, missed a scoring chance in the final seconds during an NCAA men's college basketball tournament East Region semifinal in Washington, Friday, March 29, 2019

The Duke Blue Devils used up a lot of good juju to get by the UCF Knights in the Round of 32 and the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Sweet 16. They’ll get their strongest test of the March Madness tournament against a Spartans team that dominated LSU on Friday night. Duke opened as a 3-point favorite, a number that has been already brought down to 2 by MSU backers. The total is around 150.

Michigan State vs Duke Game Center

Standout Stats

  • Duke has been a bettor’s nightmare, covering the spread just once in its last eight games and never yet in the NCAA Tournament. The only game the Blue Devils have covered since March 2 was the ACC final, as they laid seven points to Florida State in a 73-63 win.
  • These teams don’t play often, but when they do, the OVER usually follows. In the nine games since 2004, the OVER has hit eight times.
  • Duke and Michigan State have played four times in the NCAA Tournament since 1999. Duke is 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS. Most recently, Duke (-5.5) won 81-61 in the Final Four in 2015 and 71-61 in the Sweet 16 in 2013 (-2).  
  • Michigan State is 13-1 SU and 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games. The UNDER has hit in four of its last five, with an average combined score of 130.2.
  • Duke was one of the best UNDER bets in the country this year at 11-25-1 O/U. Lines have gotten sharper later in the season but the Blue Devils are still 4-8 in the last 12.
  • Duke’s Cam Reddish missed the Sweet 16 game and is questionable to play vs Michigan State.
  • These teams are a combined 18-2 on neutral courts this season. 
  • One of Michigan State’s two non-conference losses this year was against Louisville from the ACC. That was back on November 27 where the Spartans lost 82-78 SU as a 5-point favorite. Duke didn’t play any top Big Ten schools and squeaked by Louisville 71-69.
  • The Blue Devils dropped Indiana 90-69 in November. Indiana beat Michigan State 79-75 in February. In fairness, Indiana was a disaster most of the season and it’s hard to quantify games vs the Hoosiers.

My Best Bet for Michigan State vs Duke


While I think that backing Michigan State is a good spread play in this game, I think 150 points is just too much to expect these teams to achieve.

Both teams are in the top nine in adjusted defensive rating and in the top seven of adjusted offense – there’s a reason that they’re meeting for a trip to the Final Four. I think you’ll see both sides tame down the free-wheeling styles with so much on the line, lowering possession numbers and therefore the score.