Odds & Pick for Duke vs. Virginia Tech Basketball: Betting Value on Hokies If Jalen Johnson Sits
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Tyrece Radford.
- The Virginia Tech Hokies take on the Duke Blue Devils in an ACC showdown on Tuesday night.
- Virginia Tech haven't shown any real weaknesses, but Duke has struggled on the defensive end on the floor in conference play.
- BJ Cunningham breaks down the game and shares a betting pick based on his analysis below.
Duke vs. Virginia Tech Odds
Duke heads to Blacksburg, Virginia, on Tuesday for a top-25 showdown with Virginia Tech.
The Blue Devils were back in action this week after almost three weeks off, notching wins at home against Boston College and Wake Forest.
Duke started its season off in horrific fashion, losing at home to Michigan State and Illinois during its non-conference schedule.
However, a 3-0 start in conference play has things trending up in Durham. The biggest question mark going into Tuesday’s game is the status of star freshman Jalen Johnson. Johnson has missed the last three games due to injury and is a game-time decision.
Mike Krzyzewski says Jalen Johnson DID do individual work yesterday at practice, although only a little (as was the case for the entire team). He’ll travel to Virginia Tech and suit up, but TBD on if he’ll play.
Duke’s break after VT would give him time to get back in shape.
— Brendan Marks (@BrendanRMarks) January 11, 2021
The Hokies have had a rollercoaster of a season to get to 9-2. They defeated third-ranked Villanova in November but also lost by 20 at home to Penn State.
The Hokies have taken a big leap in Mike Young’s second year as coach and are poised to compete near the top of the ACC. A win over the 19th-ranked Blue Devils would go a long way for Virginia Tech to secure an at-large bid.
When Duke has the ball
It seems crazy to say, but Duke is only a slightly above-average team right now. Its effective field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, and 2-point percentage are just barely above the NCAA average.
The biggest difference between this season and last season is the fact that Duke turns the ball over at a much higher rate this season, and it’s not getting to the free-throw line very often.
In fact, the Blue Devils’ free-throw rate has gone down over 12% from last year, which is fairly significant. They also only shooting 71% from the free-throw line, so for Duke to improve, it has to start getting to the charity stripe more often.
The biggest weakness for Virginia Tech on defense this season has been defending the 3-point line. The Hokies allow opponents to shoot almost 34% from deep. In fact, in their two losses this season to Louisville and Penn State, the Hokies allowed over 40% from beyond the arc.
Where Virginia Tech excels is keeping opponents off the offensive glass, as its defensive rebounding rate is in the top 40 nationally. That will come in handy because Duke has the highest offensive rebounding rate in the ACC this season.
When Virginia Tech has the ball
One of the reasons Young was brought in from Wofford was to improve the Hokies’ offense, and he’s done that in Year 2. Virginia Tech ranks 27th nationally in offensive efficiency, per KenPom.
The reason why Virginia Tech has been excelling on offense is that it doesn’t have any discernible weaknesses. The Hokies are above average in just about every offensive metric, but they’ll need to shoot the ball well to beat Duke on Tuesday.
The Blue Devils have been terrible on the defensive end of the floor during ACC play. Duke is allowing 1.07 point per possession and over 42% from behind the arc during conference play. Clearly, having Johnson out of the lineup is having an effect on the defensive end of the floor.
The Hokies are also getting to the free-throw line at a ridiculous 39% rate during conference play, so Duke will need to stay disciplined, or Virginia Tech is going to put it in foul trouble.
Betting Analysis & Pick
In my opinion, this game is dependent on the status of Johnson.
If he plays, I don’t think there’s much value on the current line. If Johnson is out again, I think Virginia Tech should be able to take care of business at home.
Therefore, I’m going to back the Hokies at -1.5 — but only if Johnson is out.
Pick: Virginia Tech -1.5 or better (if Jalen Johnson is out for Duke).