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Duke Betting Odds: Sweet 16 Vegas Lines, Preview and Pick

Clemson Tigers(25-9) @ Kansas Jayhawks(29-7)

  • Where: CenturyLink Center. Omaha, NE
  • When: March 23, 2018 7:07 pm EST
  • Spread: Clemson (+4.5) vs Kansas (-4.5) / Syracuse (+11.5) vs Duke (-11.5)
  • Moneyline: Duke (-150), Kansas (+205), Clemson (+800), Syracuse (+1800)

Upsets have been the narrative of March Madness in 2018. UMBC over Virginia in an historic 40 minutes. Butler surprising in the East. Buffalo whipping a distracted Arizona squad. Florida State knocking 1st seeded Xavier off its pedestal in the Round of 32.

The result is that low seeds are playing other low seeds in the Sweet 16, with an upcoming Final Four that looks wide-open to a Cinderella bid.

But in the Midwest bracket? Say hello to the big guys.

Tradition (and big money) remains a powerful force in Division 1 sports, as evidenced by the 4 remaining teams in the Midwest. Clemson is perhaps the interloper as a school more well-known for its football prowess. The other 3 programs are college hoops institutions.

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been surprises. Pennsylvania scared Kansas in the opening round, just a day prior to Virginia becoming the first 1st seed to ever lose in the round. Syracuse bested Tom Izzo’s high-seeded Michigan State Spartans, but nobody will take Jim Boeheim’s team lightly based on its #11 seed.

Let’s take a look at both Sweet 16 match-ups in Omaha, then select the best futures pick for reaching the Final Four in San Antonio.

Sweet 16 Betting Preview: Kansas vs Clemson

The Clemson Tigers beat the Auburn Tigers by 31 flippin’ points in the Round of 32.

But was the result due to a powerhouse performance by Clemson or was it the product of a flawed Auburn team?

War Eagle was grounded late in the 1st half as the Orange and Blue missed 18 shots in a row from the field. Auburn only turned the ball over to Clemson 6 times, but combined for totals  of 9 assists and 27 rebounds against 46 and 19 respectively for the victors.

Whether or not Auburn was a patsy on defense, the (Auburn) Tigers were a superlative offensive team in ’17-’18. Clemson’s offense has been bolstered by the shining performance of shooting guard Gabe Dafoe, as the upperclassman poured in 6 3-pointers on just 9 attempts last Tuesday. But credit must go to the Tigers’ half-court defense most of all.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Jayhawks are off to a slow start, but still winning. A nervous 1st half against Penn turned into an easier outing in the 2nd frame, but it took a 28-point tour de force by sophomore guard Malik Newman for the ‘Hawks to get past Seton Hall.

Unfortunately for Clemson, KU big man Udoka Azubuike is starting to get healthy. The 7-foot NBA prospect is a marvel in a tournament short on dominant centers, and gives Kansas a weapon that the Tigers won’t be able to match up against inside. Brad Brownell’s team deserves all kinds of praise, but Final Four slots don’t merely go to who is deserving.

We’re liking Kansas (-4.5) over Clemson as a lock-down ATS pick.

Click to wager on the Kansas Jayhawks to beat the Clemson Tigers by at least 5 points and get an NCAA Tournament sign-up bonus from Bovada.

Duke vs Syracuse: Coach K applies the Allen wrench

Syracuse is a great story. Jim Boeheim’s team has made the most of a First Four ticket to the big dance, beating ASU, Texas Christian and finally Michigan State. Defensive stats are superlative – MSU made only 17 of 66 shots from the field in the loss.

The Orangemen are only averaging around 60 points per game, but fans are taking heart that Duke’s big-time baller Grayson Allen is having a quiet tournament so far.

Except that’s the best news in the world for the Blue Devils.

Allen was considered a selfish player early in the season, a super-talented guard who played each possession as if A) the shot clock was 15 seconds and B) he was the only player allowed to shoot. After months of hard instruction from Coach K, Allen has settled down into a team-player role while still scoring in double-digits.

That’s allowing other Duke cagers to shine. Marvin Bagley III has led the squad with 44 points in the tourney, and grabbed 9 rebounds in the Blue Devils’ convincing 82-67 win over scrappy Rhode Island.

Duke is probable to survive and advance, setting up a Kansas-Duke battle of aristocrats in the Elite Eight.

NCAA Tournament Futures: Final Four Betting Pick

Duke and Kansas. Speed and finesse against power and talent. Coach K against fellow coaching HOF’er Bill Self. Allen versus Newman. Udoka versus the Duke University front-court.

Feels like a pretty even match-up, doesn’t it? Except Duke is at minus-money line odds to reach the Final Four. Kansas is at (+205).

That settles that. As we touched on while making MSB’s winning Super Bowl pick in February, any contest that is close to a 50-50 call on the field of play, but lopsided on the odds board, puts value on the underdog.

Pundits will go insane trying to pick a straight-up winner if Duke and KU meet. Smart bettors will take the evenly-matched school with better odds.

Take Kansas at 2/1 to reach San Antonio after another pair of victories.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.


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