Big Monday Mega Preview: Duke-Miami and Kansas-WVU
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s take a look at a few of today’s most intriguing college basketball matchups, including an ACC battle between Duke and Miami, and Kansas visiting Morgantown in a game that could go a long way toward deciding whether KU runs their Big 12 title streak to 14 consecutive seasons. I also share my quick thoughts on an afternoon battle between Providence and Butler.
I pull all lines via 5Dimes at time of publication. Follow me on Twitter @jorcubsdan for live injury updates and second half additions.
Duke @ Miami +4.5
Miami has defeated Duke in five of their past eight meetings. They have won the last two in Coral Gables, although Grayson Allen missed last season’s game at Miami due to an ankle injury. Typically, Miami coach Jim Larranaga’s constantly switching man-to-man defense has given the Blue Devils issues (he will also mix in his notorious 3-2 camouflaged matchup zone). However, this year’s matchup will likely hinge on the battle between Marvin Bagley and Dewan Huell in the post.
Huell is an absolute monster defending the post, allowing just .387 points per post possession. Bagley, meanwhile, scores 1.01 points per post possession. Something has to give, as Larranaga will undoubtedly let Huell work in single coverage. The winner of that one-on-one matchup will go a long way in determining the outcome.
Coach K won’t commit to being a “full time” zone defense, as he firmly believes teams win with man-to-man defense in March. But there’s no question his Blue Devils have defended better in zone, which the Canes have struggled against. Per Synergy, Duke allows just .82 points per possession in zone defense, while Miami grades out in just the eighth percentile in zone offense, scoring .78 points per possession. Miami’s struggles in zone offense stem from the poor shooting of NBA first-round prospects Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown, both of whom shoot the 3 at sub 30%. The Canes scored just 54 points in 70 possessions against Georgia Tech’s myriad zone looks.
Huell can contain Bagley, and Duke should throw zones at a poor shooting Miami perimeter. As a result, this sets up as another slugfest, similar to last year’s meeting 55-50 Miami win in Coral Gables. Duke’s ability to create extra possessions on the offensive glass (the Blue Devils rank No. 1 in the NCAA in offensive rebounding rate) against a poor defensive rebounding Miami team could be the difference in a low-scoring affair.
The Pick: Duke/Miami under 153
Kansas @ West Virginia -5.5
Even though Kansas is well versed in the ways of West Virginia’s relentless full-court pressure defense, it’s always difficult to face them on the quick Saturday to Monday turnaround. Additionally, this game follows a heated rivalry game against Kansas State for the Jayhawks. Bill Self estimates the Jayhawks had 30 minutes of prep time, per Gary Bedore at the KC Star:
“West Virginia is a tough team to prepare for regardless of the situation,” Self said. “With 30 minutes of practice (Sunday), it’s not a lot of time for preparation in what they throw at you. We will have to go be very physically tough and mentally tough.”
West Virginia should have swept the Jayhawks last year. They dominated Kansas in Morgantown, but blew a 14-point lead with under three minutes to go at the Phog in an OT loss.
The good news for Kansas is they have excelled against the press, scoring 1.12 points per possession, per Synergy. However, Devonte’ Graham and company have only seen the press in an extremely limited sample size of 28 possession.
The bad news for Kansas is they allow 1.09 points per possession on putbacks. West Virginia crashes the offensive glass with reckless abandon, scoring 1.15 points per possession on putbacks. Additionally, those numbers will only improve with Esa Ahmad back in Bob Huggins’ rotation. Ahmad, one of the Mountaineers’ best offensive rebounders, had a monster season debut at Texas Tech.
Self recently had his own roster boost after the NCAA cleared Silvio De Sousa, but I don’t envision the notoriously frosh-averse coach giving him meaningful playing time. De Sousa logged just four minutes against Kansas State on Saturday.
The Pick: Pass
Other Quick Hitters
Butler gives up a lot of size in key positions to Providence. The Friars will benefit from the interchangeability of Alpha Diallo, Jalen Lindsey and Rodney Bullock against Kelan Martin. PC can also obscure Kamar Baldwin’s passing lanes off ball screens, turning him into a shooter instead of a distributor.
The Pick: Providence +2
Bucknell recently saw the return of both Kimbal Mackenzie and Nate Sestina. A healthier Bison team is a scary proposition for the rest of the Patriot League. Bucknell won both meetings last year against Colgate, who runs an inverted motion offense that doesn’t exploit Bucknell’s defensive struggles in pick-and-roll. Bucknell’s Nana Foulland should eat against Colgate’s terrible post defense.
The Pick: Pass
Monday Top Picks:
Duke/Miami under 153
Photo via Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports