Bet: Iowa -3 @ -105
Why not make it a trend? I’m sticking with Big Ten teams with dominant big men over their ACC opponents tonight. Luka Garza has been nothing short of spectacular so far this year, piling up video game statistics for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Garza leads the nation in scoring at 34 Points per game while shooting a ridiculous 76% from the field.
North Carolina might have one of the few players in the county who could give Garza fits in Garrison Brooks, but unfortunately for the Tar Heels it sure sounds like Brooks is unlikely to play, coming off a sprained ankle suffered against Texas over the weekend. In addition, Iowa’s greatest weakness, defending the perimeter is cancelled out in this contest by the fact that as quick and athletic as the Tar Heels are, they lack any dangerous shooting weapons.
I’ll take the team at full strength in this one with Luka Garza making an early case for National Player of the Year in a major showcase spot against a premiere program missing some key pieces.
Bet: Illinois +4 @ -102
I got burned by Illinois last week in a prime time game against Baylor but I also got paid out fading Duke at home against another Big Ten team in Michigan State. Back to the well for me here tonight as I like the Illini to win outright and can’t pass up getting the four points in this spot.
The talented, but inexperienced backcourt of the Blue Devils have been prone to turning the ball over early in the season and the Illinois backcourt won’t think twice about turning this game into a track meet.Trent Frazier and Ayo Dosunmu will run, pressure and knock down long range shots when left open. In the front court, Duke has some talented players, but no one to match up physically with Kofi Cockburn. One could argue that Cockburn might have difficulty guarding guys like Matthew Hurt along the perimeter, but I suspect that as long as he steers clear of foul trouble, he’ll make his presence known enough as a help defender and shot blocker to eleviate some of those concerns.
I strongly believe not having a raucous home court crowd allowed Michigan State to withstand an early Blue Devils run last week. Without that energy to feed off tonight, I can’t see Duke keeping Illinois off the glass and out of reach on the scoreboard. Give me the points here. Official play: Illinois +4 (-102).