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Zion is the Biggest Difference Maker in College Hoops Betting ... And He’s Back

Duke's Zion Williamson sits on the floor following a injury during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Durham, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019

Call him the X factor, or in this case, the Z factor. Zion Williamson takes the Duke Blue Devils from good to great and he significantly increases their chances of covering a double-digit spread vs Syracuse. Duke and Syracuse split the season series with the visiting team winning straight up and against the spread each time. Many books are holding off on posting a line for this game until Zion’s status is confirmed, but we have seen it at 11.5 or 12.

Syracuse vs Duke Game Center

Standout Stats

  • Syracuse has the No. 200 scoring offense in the country and is No. 9 in the ACC. In conference games, the Orange are averaging both 68.1 points for and 68.1 points against. Duke has the No. 7 offense in the country and the No. 2 offense in the ACC. The Blue Devils are averaging 78.8 points per game in conference play.
  • Duke has covered the spread in just two of its last eight games, -5.5 vs Syracuse and -15 vs Miami. Additionally, Duke is 1-3 ATS in its last four games as a double-digit favorite and is 1-5 ATS in its last six games vs teams with winning records.
  • The UNDER has hit in eight of Duke’s last nine games as a double-digit favorite with an average combined score of 145.6. In fact, in Duke’s 31 games this season, the O/U record is 8-22-1. The average combined score in the two games between these teams this year is 163 (186 and 140).
  • Duke is the 14th-ranked three-point shooting team in the ACC at just 29.6 percent. The Blue Devils’ success comes from the ability to move the ball around the perimeter and feed it inside – which is why Zion is so important to their success. Duke’s two-point field-goal percentage is 56.2 percent, the best in the conference.
  • Syracuse has been a double-digit underdog just twice this season, covering 17 points at Duke on January 14 and covering 11 points at UNC on February 26. They also covered 11 points vs Duke in the Sweet 16 last year, losing 69-65.
  • The Odds Shark Super Computer predicts that Duke will win this game by five points but that Syracuse will cover.

My Pick for Syracuse vs Duke

Syracuse +12

I think that even as Zion works his way back into the lineup tonight, he will be on a minutes restriction. Additionally, the Blue Devils will need to readjust their game to having him in the lineup.

Syracuse has been in this spot before and has had success in covering. This is a must-win for Syracuse and a should-win for Duke. With the numbers outlined above and the situation coming into this game, I’m happy to take the points with Syracuse.