Duke vs. Baylor prediction: College basketball pick, odds, best bet
Baylor versus Duke at Madison Square Garden on a Wednesday night in December.
For college hoops fans, it doesnt get much better than this.
A couple of key questions will decide the games outcome.
First big question: Can Baylor stop Duke superstar big man Kyle Filipowski?
Baylors post-up and interior defensive metrics arent excellent, but the Bears no-middle defensive scheme generally prevents those opportunities.
Scott Drews defensive philosophy revolves around keeping opponents away from the basket, where Filipowski likes to operate (11 paint points per game).
Instead, the no-middle forces ball-handlers to peddle in the midrange and Duke doesnt love the midrange.
Per ShotQuality, the Blue Devils rank 266th nationally in midrange shot frequency and 236th in midrange points per possession.
Even if Filipowski scores efficiently on the block, he shouldnt see enough post opportunities to generate huge numbers.
And if Duke is forced into mid-range opportunities, it wont see much success either.
3Duke’s Kyle Filipowski. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters ConThe second big question: Can Duke stop Baylors elite ball-screen attack?
The Bears run the pick-and-roll more than most college basketball teams, relying heavily on the RayJ Dennis-JaKobe Walter backcourt.
Baylor is incredibly efficient in those sets, while the Blue Devils are more average at defending those sets.
However, Duke could be fine if Tyrese Proctor is playing.
Proctors missed the last two games because of a leg injury, and is expected to be a game-time decision.
Hes Dukes best perimeter ball-screen defender, and the Blue Devils are about seven points better per 100 possessions defensively with him on the floor than off.
3Duke’s Tyrese Proctor is a game-time decision. Getty ImagesHis presence is vital in stopping the Baylor backcourt.
If he is playing, I love the Under in this game.
Baylor will force Duke into uncomfortable, inefficient midrange shots, and Proctor will keep Baylor from going thermonuclear on the perimeter.
Even more critical is Baylors looming shooting regression.
The Bears are shooting a wildly unsustainable 44.6 percent from deep this year, tops nationally by over 3 percent.
Thats unsustainable over an entire season ShotQuality projects they should be shooting closer to 36 percent based on the quality of attempts taken.
3Baylor guard RayJ Dennis. APOnce the 3s stop falling, Baylor wont continue scoring at its insane clip (88 ppg), making the Bears offense uber-overvalued the Bears are 6-3 to the over this year, and more unders are coming.
The regression train may have already pulled into Waco.
After a 9-0 start, Baylor shot 6-for-19 (31.5 percent) from deep against Michigan State in a 24-point loss, scoring only 64 points at 0.86 points per possession.
The neutral-court setting is also worth mentioning.
Per Bet Labs, neutral-court Unders are 5,166-4,676-129 since 2005, and a $100 bettor would be up more than $10,000 betting the Under in each of those contests.
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Between the defensive schematic matchup and Baylors incoming regression, ShotQuality projects only 148 points between these two Wednesday night.
Throw in the neutral-court setting, and Im all in on Under 153.5, which Id play down to about 150.
Of course, the key to this handicap is Proctors status.
Keep an eye on the injury report, hammer the Under if hes in but stay away if hes out.
Bet: Under 153.5 (-110, BetMGM)— Stay away if Proctor is out
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