Tuesday College Basketball Odds & Picks: Illinois Can Pull Off Upset at Duke (December 8)

Tuesday College Basketball Odds & Picks: Illinois Can Pull Off Upset at Duke (December 8) article feature image
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Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ayo Dosunmu.

  • Illinois is a short underdog at Duke on Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
  • Duke's green squad hasn't jived yet, while the Illini bring an experienced roster that can seriously test the Blue Devils.
  • Mike Randle makes his pick and gives his full breakdown on this game below.

Illinois vs. Duke Odds

Illinois Odds +3.5 [BET NOW]
Duke Odds -3.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +143 / -177 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 146.5 [BET NOW]
Time Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Monday evening and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today.

The No. 10 Duke Blue Devils entered the 2020-21 season with their usual high expectations. However, after three uninspiring games resulting in a 2-1 record, can they right the ship at home against a powerful Big Ten foe in No. 6 Illinois?

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Illinois Fighting Illini

The Fighting Illini looked impressive to start the season with home wins over North Carolina A&T, Chicago State and Ohio before a tough 82-69 loss to No. 2 Baylor in Indianapolis. 

The inside/outside combination of 7-foot sophomore Kofi Cockburn and 6-foot-6 junior guard Ayo Dosunmu is one of the best tandems in college basketball. Cockburn is averaging 13.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and one block per game. Dosunmu has flirted with a triple-double in multiple games and is averaging 23.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists while shooting over 47% (8-of-17) from 3-point range. 

Lightning-quick senior guard Trent Frazier (9.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists) is shooting 47.4% (9-of-19) from beyond the arc, and freshman Andre Curbelo (10 points) has been superbly efficient in just 16 minutes per game. 

Illinois has received a big contribution from freshman Adam Miller. The former four-star recruit has contributed 14.5 points in just over 28 minutes per game. Senior Da’Monte Williams (7.1 pts, 7.8 rebounds) and junior Giorgio Bezhanishvili (7.5 points, 3.8 rebounds) bring leadership and defensive toughness to a well-rounded roster. 

The Illini have continued their dominance on the boards, ranking seventh-best in the nation at 49.3 rebounds per game. They are particularly relentless on the offensive boards, averaging 14.8 per game, which tied an elite rebounding Houston team. Cockburn’s interior dominance has buoyed their 2-point percentage to over 57%, while Dosunmu and Frazier have guided their 3-point rate north of 45%.

Illinois battled closely with Baylor despite Cockburn’s foul trouble. He only played 18 minutes against the Bears’ massive frontline, putting the Illini at a severe disadvantage. 


Duke Blue Devils

The Blue Devils have struggled with consistency in the early part of this season. They have produced three lackluster performances en route to a 2-1 record. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils only defeated Coppin State by 10, then lost to Michigan State 75-67, before failing to cover against first-time Division I Bellarmine. It has not been a strong start for the Dukies. 

Their scoring has been led by sophomore Matthew Hurt (19 points per game) and super freshman Jalen Johnson (13 points). Hurt has more than doubled his scoring average from last season and also leads the Blue Devils in rebounding (8.7) and 3-point percentage (56.3%).

The versatile 6-foot-9 Johnson has been equally as impressive with 8.6 rebounds per game and 64% shooting from the field, although his four turnovers per game is an area in need of improvement.

Duke’s other two main players are also freshmen. DJ Steward (11.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists) handles the point-guard duties, with 6-foot-8 Jaemyn Brakefield (8.1 points, 3.7 rebounds) providing energy off the bench.

Five-star prospect Jeremy Roach (5.3 points, 2.7 assists) has been slow to acclimate to the college game, with 2.7 turnovers in just over 23 minutes per game.

Duke’s defense is strong, but its usual rebounding advantage will be tested against the veteran Illini team. Duke’s 68.8% free-throw percentage is also concerning, especially 62% from Johnson and 50% from Brakefield.

The neophyte Blue Devils have been sloppy with the ball, ranking 227th with a 23.3% offensive turnover percentage, per KenPom.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Duke will always draw the majority of bets and money, especially at home. This explains why Illinois, despite being the superior team, opened at +4.

The Blue Devils have historically covered against non-conference opponents at home.

However, looking at last year and this season, the Blue Devils are only 2-5, including 0-3 this season. The freshmen have not gelled as they usually do under Coach K, and the lack of practice time combined with a brutal early schedule have hurt the Blue Devils.

I’m gladly taking the 3.5 points with Illinois in a vacant Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Pick: Illinois +3.5.

[Bet Illinois now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]