Duke’s Matthew Hurt (21) celebrates after a big play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in South Bend, Ind. Duke won 75-65. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
- The North Carolina State Wolfpack (8-8, 4-7 ACC) host the Duke Blue Devils (7-8, 5-6 ACC) Saturday, Feb. 13
- Both teams are struggling of late, with Duke losing six of its last eight and NC State dropping seven of its last nine
- Read below for odds, analysis, and our best bet for this matchup
The North Carolina State Wolfpack, winners of only two games in the calendar year, host the Duke Blue Devils Saturday, Feb. 13. Tip is set for 4pm ET at PNC Arena.
This Tobacco Road tussle has a similar primary storyline to last week’s tilt in Durham, though not as dramatic since NC State isn’t the blueblood that North Carolina is. But the headline remains the same: the two programs aren’t currently where we’re used to seeing them. A big reason is their respective inability to stop anyone. The Wolfpack’s defense is bad, allowing opponents 70.7 points per game. The Blue Devils are even worse, surrendering 72.1 points per game.
Now, the Wolfpack are slight home underdogs to a Devils team that is suffering one of its worst seasons under Mike Krzyzewski.
Duke vs North Carolina State Odds
|Duke||-3 (-110)||N/A||Ov 149 (-110)|
|North Carolina State||+3 (-110)||N/A||Un 149 (-110)|
Odds taken Feb. 12 from FanDuel
Small Forward, Big Problem
The results this season are alarming enough for Duke fans. The storied program has had a pair of three-game losing streaks since the start of 2021 — when its most recent three-game skid was five years ago. But that’s not all. Tuesday’s 93-89 loss to Notre Dame at Cameron Indoor marked the first time since 2009 the Devils surrendered at least 90 points in two straight home games.
The Irish shot 55-percent overall, including 11-of-25 from distance, and converted 18-of-20 free throws. With a performance like that, it’s no wonder the Irish overcame a 15-point first-half deficit to win for only the second time ever on Duke’s fabled home floor. So, why can’t Duke play defense?
For starters, the small forward position has been an issue. Sophomore Matthew Hurt is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. But, too often, his defensive issues result in foul trouble, landing him on the bench in the most important moments of the game. He can score with anyone. But he can also allow teams to score far too often on Duke.
This Wolfpack also has significant defensive deficiencies. A strong case in point for that was Tuesday’s effort — or lack thereof. Kevin Keatts’ team simply could not generate a stop against the Orange in a 77-68 loss.
Syracuse’s Alan Griffin and Buddy Boeheim combined to shoot 15-of-29 from the field and score 38 points. It was open season for the Orange’s shooters, who went 47-percent overall and 47-percent from 3-point land.
The Pack didn’t help themselves either, with a season-high 20 turnovers against the ‘Cuse.
NC State’s 51.9-percent effective field goal percentage on defense is rated No. 238 overall. That puts the Wolfpack ahead of only three other ACC teams: Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and … yep, Duke. We’re dealing with a pair of teams Saturday that just don’t defend well. Are you starting to notice a lean here?
Get Over It
These teams have scorers — and emerging ones, too.
Hurt’s 17.7 points per game average puts him second in the ACC. NC State’s Devon Daniels is averaging 16.5 points per outing, good for sixth in the conference. Then, there’s Duke’s Wendell Moore. The sophomore forward has scored in double-figures the last four games. That includes his effort Tuesday, when he was the best Blue Devil on the floor, finishing with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists while not turning the ball over and only committing one foul.
🔥@thewendellmoore is hoopin btw (18 pts, 6-7 FG, 2-2 3pt)
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) February 9, 2021
The Blue Devils have only allowed an opponent to score less than 65 points twice this season. On the other hand, they’ve allowed at least 82 points four times — including 91 and 93 the last two, respectively.
The Wolfpack’s defense hasn’t bad as porous, but it’s been pretty bad. NC State has surrendered at least 74 points to an opponent eight times When you combine that lack of ability to make stops with truly talented players, it’s a recipe for a high-scoring affair. These proud programs are essentially playing out the string. But, boy, can each score — and be scored upon.
The pick: Over 149 (-110)
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.