Duke vs. Louisville Odds & Betting Pick: Blue Devils in Bounce-Back Spot vs. Cardinals
Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Krzyzewski.
Duke vs. Louisville Odds
Duke looks to end its two-game losing streak in ACC play when it takes on Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday.
Things have gone from bad to worse for the Blue Devils, who are now 5-4 on the season after losing to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The loss dropped Duke down to 30th in the KenPom rankings, which is by far its lowest ranking since the inception of the rankings in 2002.
Louisville hasn’t been much better under Chris Mack this year, as the Cardinals have also lost back-to-back games. Louisville was projected to finish near the top of the ACC, so it needs a win on Saturday to get back on track.
When Duke Has the Ball
The Blue Devils actually haven’t been terrible on the offensive end of the floor during ACC play, as they’ve averaged 1.09 points per possession.
The main reason for that is the number of second-chance opportunities they’ve created. They boast the second-highest offensive rebound rate in the conference at over 35% and grabbed 15 against Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
The main issue for Duke is it’s flat out shooting the ball terribly this season. The Blue Devils are in the bottom half of the ACC in every shooting metric and shot 38.6% from the floor against Pittsburgh.
One area Duke needs to exploit against Louisville is getting to free-throw line as often as possible. Louisville has one of the worst free-throw rates allowed in the ACC; however, Duke is struggling to get to the free-throw line at only 24.2%, which is 332nd nationally, per KenPom.
Louisville’s defense has struggled its last two games against Miami and Florida State, allowing over 1.15 points per possession to both teams.
The reason for its struggles is that it’s been bad defending the perimeter. The Cardinals allowed the Hurricanes and Seminoles to shoot a combined 41.4% from beyond the arc, so if Duke is going to win this game, it’s going to have to shoot a high percentage from 3.
When Louisville has the ball
The identity of the Louisville offense is to get the ball down low as much as possible.
The Cardinals have one of the lowest 3-point/FGA ratios in the country, and it’s for good reason. They shoot a dismal 32.3% from deep. Louisville plays a slow, grind-it-out tempo in the half-court, owning the 330th-fastest tempo in the country. That’s going to be a change of pace for Duke, which plays at an above-average tempo.
For Louisville to be successful on offense, it’s going to have to get to the free-throw line early and often. Duke allows the highest free-throw rate in the conference, while Louisville’s is the third-highest in the ACC on offense.
In fact, Duke allowed Pittsburgh to shoot 37 free throws on Tuesday. Additionally, this Duke team is pretty thin with Mike Krzyzewski only giving significant minutes to five players. So, if the Cardinals can get Duke’s starting five in foul trouble, they’ll have a good shot at winning this game.
The only areas where Duke excels on defense are turning opponents over and defensive rebounding. Coincidently, those are two of Louisville’s strengths on offense, so the Blue Devils may have some difficulties defending Louisville in the half-court.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Despite all of the issues Duke is having right now, I think it matches up well against this Louisville team.
If the Blue Devils can stay disciplined and force the Cardinals to beat them with outside shots, they should be able to do enough offensively to walk away with the win on the road.
I have Duke projected as a -0.46 favorite, so I think there’s some value on the Blue Devils at +1.5.
Pick: Duke +1.5 or better.