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West Virginia vs Duke Picks – Who Can Hoard on the Backboard?

Posted by Washington Tucker on 3/29/2010 2:21:59 PM
NCAA Betting odds – West Virginia

Online betting in the world of college basketball is a frail enterprise that is always subject to failure. A few bounces of a ball, a late whistle, or one bad decision by a 20-year-old kid in a grown man’s body can turn a game in one direction instead of another. There are more predictable sporting events to wager on, but if you like the thrill and the adrenaline of March Madness – or now, given the place of the calendar, April Anxiety – you need to know that when Duke and West Virginia lock horns in the second national semifinal at the 2010 Final Four, the outcome will be decided by one thing above all else: rebounding.

West Virginia vs Duke Betting Odds: West Virginia
  • What: NCAA Basketball Betting
  • When: Saturday, April 3rd – Approx. 8:47 PM ET
  • Where: Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, IN
  • Key Stat: Duke scored 23 second-chance points on 22 offensive rebounds in its South Regional final win over Baylor this past Sunday

The West Virginia-Duke Storyline

If sportsbook odds could be connected to specific components of basketball games, it would be easy to break down West Virginia’s colossal confrontation with Duke this upcoming weekend. Duke owns the pure shooters on the floor (guards Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith), while West Virginia has the best player on the floor in crunch-time king Da’Sean Butler, who willed the Mountaineers to the Big East Tournament championship and has been a steadying influence on his teammates throughout the NCAAs.

Duke is a more naturally skilled team with playmakers who can dribble drive and possess considerable touch within 10-12 feet of the basket, while West Virginia is a team whose best offense is often to miss a shot and chase it on the glass. If one goes by trends that have been established throughout the course of the entire season, these are the two teams that will duel for a spot in college basketball’s national championship game.

Sports betting experts have to be wary of this national semifinal showdown, however, in light of what was seen over the past weekend’s regional finals. Duke, in its gut-check triumph over Baylor, chased down a lot of misses on the offensive backboard and cashed those extra possessions into points. Lance Thomas – a very unheralded and sometimes criticized forward – produced back-to-back offensive rebounds which led to game-breaking threes from Smith and Scheyer on Sunday against Baylor. It was because of Thomas that Duke snapped a 61-61 tie and powered past the Bears down the stretch. Duke did hit big shots, but not before the Blue Devils got to work on the glass and outworked a long and active Baylor team.

West Virginia similarly turned the tables and threw a monkey wrench into conventional wisdom in its East Regional final versus Kentucky on Saturday. The Mountaineers are not a good shooting team, but in the first half of their win over the favored Wildcats, coach Bob Huggins’ boys hit 8 of 15 3-pointers, enabling WVU to remain competitive despite failing to hit a single two-point shot. Kentucky crushed West Virginia on the offensive glass, 22-9, but because the Mountaineers shot for a much higher percentage, they pulled out a 73-66 victory to get to Lucas Oil Stadium in the first place.

Will either one of these teams play in accordance with its scouting report on Saturday? That’s the big question.

Offensive Matchups

West Virginia doesn’t have a single great pure shooter on its team, while Duke has some players who can bust Huggins’ 1-3-1 zone defense. West Virginia will need to pinch on Scheyer and Smith. If the Blue Devils’ big guns get going, it will be hard to stop coach Mike Krzyzewski’s club as Coach K pursues a fourth national championship at Duke.

Betting Edge: Duke

Defensive Matchups

Duke has been very gritty and hard-nosed at the defensive end of the floor in this tournament. Baylor shot only 28 percent from 3-point range against the Blue Devils on March 28, so it’s clear that the ACC champions can defend on the perimeter. Yet, West Virginia did a great job in its own regional final. The Mountaineers were terrific in shutting down a Kentucky club whose size and power – with DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson – were hard for any team to match (with the exception of Kansas). Duke is really good on defense; the Big East Conference champions from Appalachia are better.

Betting Edge: West Virginia

Injuries

WVU guard Truck Bryant is expected to play after suffering an ankle injury last week. Nevertheless, the Mountaineers are more affected by injuries than the Blue Devils.

Betting Edge: Duke

Betting Prediction: West Virginia vs Duke Picks

In a game that comes down to rebounding – Pat Riley’s famous motto “No rebounds, no rings” comes to mind – it’s not easy to make a call here. Go with West Virginia just because the Mountaineers have more overall size and length at all five positions. Duke has a bigger center and power forward, but West Virginia has a much better chance of gang rebounding and winning battles for loose balls late in the game. West Virginia will play for the national title.

Washington’s Pick: West Virginia

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