Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski speaks with Duke forward Matthew Hurt (21) and other players during a break in the action in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in Durham, N.C., Monday, March 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
- Duke and Clemson will meet at Cameron Indoor Stadium at 12pm ET Saturday
- Neither team has played up to oddsmakers’ expectations, going a combined 4-10-1 against the spread in Atlantic Coast Conference play
- Check the odds, analysis and our betting prediction below
The Duke Blue Devils (6-5, 4-3 ACC) host the Clemson Tigers (10-4, 4-4 ACC) at Cameron Indoor Saturday, tip-off at 12pm ET. Both teams come into the game having broken three-game losing slides.
The home side is a 3.5-point favorite, but neither team has done well for bettors this season. The two teams have combined to go just 4-10-1 against the spread in conference play.
Clemson vs Duke Picks and Odds
|Clemson Tigers||+150||+3.5 (-106)||133.5 (Over-110)|
|Duke Blue Devils||-178||-3.5 (-114)||133.5 (Under-110)|
Odds from FanDuel Jan. 29
Young Duke Still Looking Right Combination
Sophomore Matthew Hurt, Duke’s leading scorer, is the only Blue Devil to have started all 11 games, as coach Mike Krzyzewski looks for a fit from his precocious freshman class that includes consensus 2021 NBA lottery pick Jalen Johnson and DJ Steward. Freshman have made a combined 29 starts this season.
The Blue Devils have used seven different lineups, three when 6-foot-9 Johnson was out with an undisclosed foot injury. Johnson missed five games after a loss against Illinois on Dec. 8 and played only four minutes in his return against Virginia Tech. He has regained his form in the last three games totaling 51 points on 19-of-33 shooting, 25 rebounds, nine assists and six blocked shots.
Finished strong 💪 #DukeMBBTop5 pic.twitter.com/MXGuzqY7c2
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) January 27, 2021
Johnson had 19 points, 19 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots in the season-opening 81-71 victory over Coppin State, becoming the first player in Duke history to reach those totals in one game. He has had at least 15 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots in a game twice this season, only the second player in a Power 6 conference to do that in the last 10 seasons.
“Going forward, maybe we are building a team here.” — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski after a 73-68 victory over Georgia Tech on Tuesday.
Hurt, 6-9, is averaging 19.2 points and 8.2 rebounds while shooting 53.3% from the field in almost 34 minutes per game. Nominal starter senior Jordan Goldwire played 35 minutes off the bench and freshman guard Jeremy Roach played only 16 in a 75-68 victory over Georgia Tech on Tuesday. Roach has not scored in his last 42 minutes.
Clemson, too, has mixed and matched this season, using 10 different starters. Only Simms and senior guard Clyde Trapp (7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds) have started every game.
Teams Underachieving ATS
Duke and Clemson have struggled mightily against the spread this season. Duke is 2-9 against the line, 2-5 in the ACC. The Blue Devils have been favored in every game but one, a 70-63 loss at Louisville in which they were a 2.5-point underdogs.
Clemson was 5-1 against the spread in non-conference play but is 2-5-1 since. The Tigers’ 54-50 home victory over Louisville on Wednesday as a 1.5-point favorite broke an 0-4-1 stretch against the spread. The Tigers are 0-3 as a road underdog in the ACC.
Steward and Johnson lead Duke to 75-68 win over Georgia Tech 😈@DukeMBB | #ACCMBB
— ACC Men’s Basketball (@accmbb) January 27, 2021
The Blue Devils broke a five-game losing streak against the line when they covered a six-point spread in 75-68 home victory over Georgia Tech on Tuesday. Duke scored the final seven points, all free throws, as the Yellow Jackets came apart. Georgia Tech committed a turnover, missed two field goal attempts and gave up two offensive rebounds in the final 1:19 after tying the game at 68.
Duke has won 18 straight in the series in Durham and is 63-4 against the Tigers at home.
Interior Forces at Work
Duke has length in forwards Hurt and Johnson and 7-foot freshman center Mark Williams, but Clemson may have the most physical inside presence in forward Aamir Simms, who recently was one of 15 players named to Naismith Defensive Player of the Year watch list.
#MaloneAward (Top PF) Watch List from @Hoophall!
Oscar da Silva
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl pic.twitter.com/xyAnD90Qlq
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) January 28, 2021
Simms leads the Tigers in scoring (12.0), rebounding (5.9), assists (2.4) and is shooting 52.9% from the field. He has 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot in the 54-50 victory over Louisville and had 25 points (including the game-winner) and seven rebounds in a 66-65 victory at Miami on Jan. 2.
Aamir Simms named to Top 10 of Karl Malone Award Watch List, given to the top power forward in 🇺🇸
READ: https://t.co/BGkLo01jFU#ClemsonGRIT // @Hoophall pic.twitter.com/jy7NMOaQVH
— Clemson Basketball (@ClemsonMBB) January 28, 2021
Simms has been up and down this season. Following the Miami game, Simms scored eight, two, 19 and five points as the Tigers lost three of four before beating Louisville. He is averaging 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in three career games against Duke.
Shooting An Issue For Both Teams
Duke is not a good shooting team, making 44.8% from the field and 33.1% from three-point range, and Clemson is worse. The Tigers are shooting 41.8% from the floor, which ranks 270th among the 340 teams in Division I. They are shooting 31.% from three-point range, which is 265th.
The Blue Devils have made 42.1% of their field goals in the last four games, outlasting Georgia Tech by making 18-of-22 free throws, their second-most makes and third-most attempts of the season. Growing pains by their two freshman guards have contributed to the offense’s inconsistency.
Clemson has made at least 50% of its field goal attempts once this season and has shot in the 30s six times, including in each of its last two games. The Tigers shot 35.8% from the field against Louisville but held the Cardinal to 31.6%.
The Pick: Duke -3.5 (-114)
Jack has covered college and professional sports for various Arizona media outlets and has written for the AP, USA Today and Baseball America, among others. He staffed the 2015-17 World Series and has staffed four Super Bowls.