Duke vs. Gonzaga Odds & Picks: How to Bet Black Friday’s College Basketball Featured Matchup
DURHAM, NC – NOVEMBER 22: Paolo Banchero #5 of the Duke Blue Devils looks to pass against the Citadel Bulldogs at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 22, 2021 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 107-81. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
- Duke and Gonzaga meet on Friday for an early-season meeting between two of college basketball's top teams.
- The Bulldogs' Chet Holmgren and Blue Devils' Paulo Banchero are both poised to be future NBA lottery picks.
- Tanner McGrath breaks down the betting value in this matchup and makes his pick for the game below.
Duke vs. Gonzaga Odds
-115o / -105u
-115o / -105u
Black Friday’s marquee matchup brings us a battle of the Blue Bloods. Sorta.
It’s tough to describe Gonzaga. While it’s a mid-major, Mark Few’s squad has been a college basketball powerhouse for years. But most recently, the Bulldogs cruised past two top-five teams in Texas and UCLA.
Therefore, this is the third top-five team Gonzaga has faced this season.
So, what makes this game different? Can Duke keep this game relatively close? Or will Gonzaga out-run and out-shoot another top-tier team?
It’s not easy to watch the Blue Devils play basketball this season. But that’s only because the Coach K retirement tour can be insufferable.
However, watching Duke on the court has been fun.
Freshman Paolo Banchero is electric. He and junior wing Wendell Moore have combined to average over 35 points, 14 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.
The efficiency stats are even better, with both players posting over a 63% true-shooting mark.
In the backcourt, Trevor Keels, another freshman, has stepped into a leadership role. He dropped 25 in the season opener vs. Kentucky and has scored a combined 39 points over his last three games.
While Paolo Banchero was spectacular, Trevor Keels was definitely the story of the night in the Champions Classic. Emerged as Duke's primary creator and made great decisions operating out of ball screens all night. Will be in lottery conversations if this is the case all season. pic.twitter.com/tcPPvPmsAR
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) November 10, 2021
Overall, Duke is just solid. The Blue Devils limit mistakes (seventh in turnover rate, 12.4%), avoid fouls (second in defensive free-throw rate, 12.4%) and make their own shots from the free-throw line (78.4%).
The Blue Devils could shoot a little better. So far, Duke is making just 33.6% of its 3s and ranks in the 52nd percentile in spot-up points per possession.
But, hopefully, the shots start hitting with time.
I don’t know what to say about the Bulldogs.
Few had the job of replacing three starters from last season, but this team appears to be better.
Although the world loves to drool over Chet Holmgren — and rightfully so — I believe the most important starter for the Bulldogs is Andrew Nembhard.
With Jalen Suggs and Joel Ayayi moving on, Nembhard becomes the undisputed backcourt leader. He’s leading the team in assists, as he did last season, but I believe people underestimated his talent coming into the season.
Nembhard should be considered one of the best point guards in the country. He’s extremely savvy running Few’s offense, is one of college basketball’s most talented passers and he’s especially deadly in the pick-and-roll
Andrew Nembhard is one of the best passers in the college game.
-Ball Fakes at the end of drives.
-Uses his vision to move defenders.
-Comes off of pick & rolls patiently.
As a playmaker, the game slows down when you slow down. pic.twitter.com/Z0oZwnMENt
— PGC Basketball (@PGCbasketball) November 23, 2021
Last season, Nembhard ranked in the 86th percentile of players in pick-and-roll points per possession (.949). Meanwhile, Drew Timme ranked in the 90th percentile as a pick-and-roll roll man (1.357). The duo abused college basketball last season, and they’re likely to do so again.
I’m also excited to see him combine with Holmgren more often.
Andrew Nembhard ➡️ Chet Holmgren
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) November 20, 2021
At this point in the season, I see no weaknesses with Gonzaga. Time will tell if there’s any team that can overcome the Bulldogs.
Duke vs. Gonzaga Betting Pick
Picking a side in this game is tough. The lookahead line was Gonzaga -4.5, but the line has moved all the way up to -8.5 following some dominant Bulldog performances.
On one hand, that seems like an overreaction. On the other hand, Gonzaga is bound to cruise through another top opponent, right?
However, a combination of market signals and trends is pointing me to another angle: the under.
While only 50% of the tickets are on the under, over 85% of the handle is. In response, the numbers have been steamed down across the market from 155.5 to 154.
Moreover, the angle has activated one of our PRO systems. Neutral court unders where the number is between 145 and 180 have hit at a cool 55% clip since 2005.
Despite these two offensive powerhouses that feature dynamic offensive-minded players, the two have combined to go 7-5 to the under so far this season.
I think the market is still valuing Gonzaga based on last year’s metrics. The ‘Zags ran at the seventh-highest tempo last season and was third in percentage of shots in transition. Through a decent six-game sample size, this year’s team is outside the top-50 in tempo and outside the top-40 in transition.
Moreover, neither Duke nor Gonzaga likes to shoot from deep. Both rank in the 190s in 3PA/FGA, and both rank inside the top-70 in 2-pointer point distribution.
Plus, I’ve already mentioned Duke’s had some troubles shooting this season.
If you add up all the edges, I believe there’s value on the under. I’m willing to make a small play on the under 154 number, but would try to avoid anything under 153.5.