After a strong 17-2 start to their regular season, the Duke Blue Devils find themselves firmly entrenched at No. 4 in the AP Top 25 college basketball rankings. But as January wound down, the Blue Devils entered perhaps the toughest stretch of their regular season schedule, the results of which hold serious implications for both their national ranking, and chances of earning an early round bye in this season’s ACC Conference tournament.
After claiming wins in their last three outings, including decisive victories over a pair of conference rivals, the Louisville Cardinals and Pittsburgh Panthers, Duke had Top 10 opponents scheduled in three of their next four outings.
The Blue Devils were 79-77 losers to the Irish as six-point favorites in their last visit to South Bend a year ago, and had lost two of their last three meetings with the 19-0 Cavaliers, going 1-6 ATS in their last seven, while posting a checkered 3-2 SU and 2-3 ATS record in their last five against the Tar Heels.
First up was a visit to No. 8 Notre Dame, where they took on the Fighting Irish as slim one-
point underdogs in college basketball online betting at sportsbooks available through bettingsports.com. Duke failed to secure the victory losing to the Irish 73-77 after faltering at the end of the game at the free throw line.
The match-up was the first of two between the ACC rivals over the next two weeks, with Notre Dame visiting Durham on February 7. The Blue Devils also paid a visit to No. 2 Virginia on Saturday, where they took on the conference-leading Cavaliers, before returning home for a date with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Duke behind a furious second half comeback defeated the Cavaliers 69-63.
The Blue Devils’ overall win/loss record is among the best in the nation, and places them among the favorites to claim the 2015 National Championship, with odds of 9/1 in college basketball futures betting at sportsbooks available through bettingsports.com. However, the club has struggled at times in conference action, compiling a 5-3 record, just 2-3-1 ATS, well back of first-place Virginia (8-1) and second place Notre Dame (8-2).
The Blue Devils stunned both their fans and sports bettors in a pair of recent losses in conference play; getting crushed 87-75 by the North Carolina State Wolfpack, while pegged as nine-point favorites, before being embarrassed at home in a 90-74 loss to the Miami Hurricanes, while favored by a whopping 15 points. With a top four finish in the conference standings ensuring a bye to the quarterfinals of the ACC Conference tournament, the pressure is now squarely on the Blue Devils, who entered the final week of January locked in a three-way tie with the Cardinals and Canes for the coveted number four spot.
Three of the Blue Devils final 10 games come against ACC bottom feeders, including the Yellow Jackets, Wake Forest and Florida State. However, their match-ups against the Irish and Cavaliers, as well as a pair of dates with No. 13 North Carolina will likely hold the key to their tourney fortunes and National Championship betting odds.
With four teams within perilously close range of Duke in the ACC standings and the Blue Devils proving to be a major disappointment to sports bettors, going 5-8-1 ATS in their last 13 outings (before Notre Dame and UVA games), the squad suddenly finds themselves in must-win territory much earlier than anticipated.
With March fast approaching, it will be crucial for the club to reverse these worrisome trends if they expect to remain a top contender for this year’s national title. The win over UVA just may be the catalyst for this team to buck the recent trend, at very least die hard Duke fans are hoping so.