(12) Yale Bulldogs vs (4) Duke Blue Devils (-6, 147 o/u)
They are some of the most prestigious learning institutions in America, but on the basketball court, the Yale Bulldogs (22-6, 13-1 Ivy) and the Duke Blue Devils (23-10, 11-7 ACC) could not be more different. Coach K leads the NCAA Tournament in all-time wins with 89; the Bulldogs just got their first win in school history with Thursday’s upset over Baylor.
But regardless of how decorated their respective tournament histories are, Duke and Yale will each have a chance to advance to the Sweet Sixteen when they meet in Providence (2:40 PM Eastern).
Yale already lost 80-61 to Duke earlier in the season, so it’s easy to discount the Ivy League school’s chances against the powerhouse program. Yet the on-paper matchup tells a different tale, one that gives the Bulldogs a puncher’s chance at pulling off another big bracket-buster.
If Duke had a glaring weakness this season, it was on the glass. The Blue Devils had some awful rebounding efforts especially after senior forward Amile Jefferson was lost early in the year with a foot injury. Jefferson had nine points and 12 boards in Duke’s win over Yale.
Yale was the second-best rebounding team in the nation (in terms of differential) and out-rebounded a strong Baylor front court 36-32. Offensively, Makai Mason led the way with a career-high 31 points as Yale shot 53-percent from the field as a team.
Duke executed some sharp-shooting of their own in their 93-85 win over a surprisingly game UNC Wilmington. The Blue Devils shot nearly 54-percent and got 20-plus-point efforts from Grayson Allen, Marshall Plumlee, and Brandon Ingram, even though Duke made just 4 of 15 from three.
Against the spread, Duke is on a bad run, failing to cover their last five games. The Blue Devils are also 0-4-1 ATS against teams they played earlier in the year. Meanwhile, Yale enters this game on the back of three straight covers.
Like Duke’s last game, this matchup will be tighter than Cameron Crazies would care for. Take Yale to keep it close.
Pick: Yale (+6).
(Photo Credit: Bryan Horowitz (Originally uploaded to Flickr. Photo may appear to be cropped)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].)