Duke vs. North Dakota State Betting Guide: Zion’s NCAA Tournament Run Starts Here

Duke vs. North Dakota State Betting Guide: Zion’s NCAA Tournament Run Starts Here article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: North Dakota State Bison guard Tyson Ward (24), Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1).

#1 Duke vs. #16 North Dakota State NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Duke -26.5
  • Over/Under: 149
  • Time: Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS
  • Location: Columbia, S.C.

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


North Dakota State already has a win in this year’s NCAA Tournament, beating North Carolina Central 78-74 on Wednesday. The First Four game had both teams tied under two minutes before the Eagles missed a free throw and jumper to give the Bison the lead. The box scores were identical, and now the Summit League champ gets No. 1 seed Duke.

The Blue Devils begin their NCAA Tournament fresh off an ACC Tournament title beating Syracuse, North Carolina and Florida State. Duke saw the return of arguably the best player in college basketball with Zion Williamson. While injuries loom in the form of Jack White and Marques Bolden, the return of Williamson makes Duke the team to beat in the tournament.

North Dakota State’s Strengths

There are positives in the advanced metrics for North Dakota State. The Bison rank 50th in effective field goal percentage, top 20 in free throws, and shoot a top-50 percentage from deep.

That last stat is important with North Dakota State relying on more than 40% of their points to come from 3-pointers. However, Duke ranks top 10 in defending the 3.

On the other side of the court, Duke ranks 338th in 3-point percentage, making the key to beating the Blue Devils to force them into a 3. North Dakota State ranks 199th in opponent point distribution from deep.

The Bison must focus on protecting everything short and forcing Duke to the arc to have a chance.

Will Duke Overlook the Bison?

Duke may very well overlook this game in preparation for the round of 32 instead of focusing on the Bison. Much like North Dakota State, neither Central Florida nor VCU — Duke’s two potential opponents — make its opponents shoot 3s.

The Knights and Rams lack a top-75 rebounding unit, thus giving Duke a comfortable advantage in the second round. While Duke shouldn’t overlook the No. 16 seed flying in from Dayton, there isn’t any dominating stat to give the Blue Devils issues in Columbia, thus limiting the chance Coack K’s crew gets caught looking ahead.

The Pick

With a KenPom projection of 88-63 in favor of Duke, there would seem to be value in the +27 on the side of North Dakota State. The Bison had eight days to prepare for Duke, and should not show any signs of fatigue for playing their second game in three days.

When looking at double-digit seeds covering large spreads in the first round, it is important to note 3-point and free throw percentage.  The strength of North Dakota State is its top-50 three-point percentage and top-20 free throw percentage.

While this game will get out of hand quickly, the Bison should be able to shoot themselves into a cover.

Collin’s Pick: North Dakota State +27 or better

Our Projected Odds: Duke vs. North Dakota State

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator 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 -28.5
  • Over/Under: 145.5
  • Score: Duke 87 | North Dakota State 58.5
  • Win Probability: Duke 99.3% | North Dakota State 0.7%

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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