Duke vs. Michigan State Betting Guide: Is Clock Ticking on Blue Devils’ NCAA Tournament Life?

Duke vs. Michigan State Betting Guide: Is Clock Ticking on Blue Devils’ NCAA Tournament Life? article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cassius Winston and Zion Williamson

#1 Duke vs. #2 Michigan State: NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Duke -2
  • Over/Under: 150
  • Location: Washington D.C.
  • Date: Sunday, March 31
  • Time: 5:05 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS

>> All odds as of Saturday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.


In an NCAA Tournament void of major upsets, Duke has unintentionally provided a lot of the drama.

The Blue Devils survived against UCF and Virginia Tech by a combined three points thanks to missed buzzer-beating layups by both teams. They’re 0-3 against the spread so far.

Sunday, Duke has its toughest test yet — Big Ten champion Michigan State, which has looked solid in the NCAA Tournament outside of first-half struggles against No. 15 Bradley in the opening round.

Market Report for Duke-Michigan State

Betting action is split right down the middle for this game, but Duke has moved from -1.5 to -2.

Behind 79% of dollars bet, the total has risen from 148.5 to 150. Check out live market info here or in The Action Network app— Steve Petrella

Coach K’s Dominance of Izzo

This is the 13th meeting between Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo. Coach K is 11-1 straight up against Izzo, winning by 8.1 points per game. But Duke is only 6-6 ATS in those games. — John Ewing

Can Jones, Duke Stay Hot From 3?

With the status of Cam Reddish unknown, look for Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett to continue to take a massive percentage of the shot attempts, especially in the second half. The star freshmen combined to score 27 of Duke’s 41 second-half points in a 75-73 win over Virginia Tech.

If Reddish can’t play and with forward Jack White still doubtful, the Blue Devils will need a repeat offensive explosion from guard Tre Jones. The 6-foot-2 defensive standout produced 22 points on 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc — he was shooting 23% from deep entering the Virginia Tech game.

With Duke still ranked a brutal 329th in 3-point percentage, it is imperative that even the threat of Jones shooting keeps lanes open for Barrett and Williamson to score inside.

They’ll be challenged by an elite Michigan State defense, especially inside the arc. The Spartans rank second-best in the country against the 2P, allowing opponents to only shoot 41.5% on average.

While Michigan State forward Nick Ward is expected to play despite leaving the Sweet 16 game with an injured hand, he certainly will not be at 100%. Duke big men Marques Bolden and Javin DeLaurier can be effective scorers when rolling to the basket off ball screens and with weakside rebounding. — Mike Randle

What Happened to Duke’s Dominant Interior?

Even with an athletic specimen like Williamson, Duke is yielding up the 22nd-highest 2-point scoring rate in the nation.

Virginia Tech grabbed 17 offensive boards in its 75-73 loss to the Blue Devils in the Sweet 16, so their interior defense has been a legitimate issue in the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan State boasts the 21st-highest offensive rebounding rate in Division I, and it presents the size with Xavier Tillman, Nick Ward and Kenny Goins to generate second-chance opportunities while limiting Duke’s transition attack.

Look for the Spartans’ half-court offense to eat inside the arc, and their physicality to overwhelm Krzyzewski’s crew.

Cassius Winston’s (18.8 points per game) prowess for grinding down defenses en route to attacking the rim will be difficult to defend, too, even against a sound on-ball defender like Blue Devils point guard Tre Jones.

Duke has had issues defending the pick-and-roll in March, and Winston’s elite-level vision should be a difference-maker with Tillman and Ward in those sets. — Eli Hershkovich

Reddish Injury Makes a Difference

I’m not a huge Cam Reddish fan, but his absence looms really large here. He is listed as questionable (knee) and it seems to be about pain management more than anything.

Michigan State is so physical and athletic inside that although Williamson has an advantage over every breathing human, that advantage is negated a little here, and Duke should really struggle to score in this game. The types of “easy 2s” that are traditionally available in Duke games may be limited.

Reddish may have only shot about 33% from 3, but he at least kept a defense a LITTLE honest. Now with Barrett struggling, is this team really going to get miraculous shooting by Tre Jones again? That absolutely can’t be relied on, and Michigan State is going to be a physical, compact nightmare in the paint as a result.

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Michigan State Spartans coach Tom Izzo

Ward’s injury clouds Michigan State’s team a little bit, as well, but as of Saturday night, he appears to be on track to play. I think with Barrett struggling and Reddish hurt, Michigan State is just flat-out better than Duke, and I don’t believe Duke should be favored in a “true line” sense.

I understand why the Blue Devils are favored in an “everyone bets on Duke every game” sense. I’ll be on the Spartans, as well as the under at the now-steamed 150.5. — Ken Barkley

Ken’s Pick: Michigan State +2, under 150.5

Duke Just Isn’t the Same

I agree with Ken. Something is just off with Duke of late. This just isn’t the same team that we saw earlier in the year with a full roster. Nobody really looks ready for the moment outside of Zion, and the shooting woes appear to be in their head.

Meanwhile, everyone has continued to disrespect this Sparty team, myself included, but they keep proving the market wrong. There’s a reason why MSU has absolutely dominated ATS. I have been frantically adjusting Michigan State up in my power ratings and Duke down.

I think Sparty is worth a play at anything over +2. We all know Duke will win by a point when Michigan State misses a layup at the buzzer. — Stuckey

Stuckey’s Pick: Michigan State +2.5 or better

Sean Koerner’s Duke-Michigan State Projections

These ratings were built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Duke -3.5
  • Over/Under: 145
  • Score: Duke 74.5 | Michigan State 71
  • Win Probability: Duke 63.3% | Michigan State 36.7%

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game is from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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