Perhaps the game of the night around college basketball is No. 8 Duke visiting what has been a very surprising Wake Forest team in ACC action, with the Blue Devils as 6-point favorites at Caesars Sportsbook. Duke will not have Hall of Fame Coach Mike Krzyzewski, however, as he's dealing with a non-COVID illness. The news is good for the Deacons as starting guard Daivien Williamson will return from COVID protocols. Click here for model picks.
Of course, this is Coach K's final season with Duke and he will be replaced by Jon Scheyer, who will coach tonight. Krzyzewski is 18 wins shy of his 1,200th career victory so he probably will get that barring the illness sidelining him for a while longer. Krzyzewski, 74, missed one game in January 2021 due to COVID protocols after a family member tested positive for the virus.
The Blue Devils, who are +800 second-favorites to win the national title at Caesars, come off a home upset loss to Miami on Saturday, 76-74. Duke blew a three-point lead in the final minute and was victimized for 15 steals by the Hurricanes. While Duke leads the ACC in scoring at 83.3 ppg, it has averaged 72.5 points in two games coming out of a COVID/holiday break.
Wake Forest was terrible last season but Coach Steve Forbes has the Deacons at 13-3 and second in the ACC in scoring at 80.0 ppg. While Duke freshman Paolo Banchero might be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Deacons' Alondes Williams has to be the ACC Player of the Year right now as he leads the team in scoring (20.4 ppg), rebounding (6.7 rpg) and assists (ACC-best 5.1 apg).
The Oklahoma transfer Williams and Duke's Wendell Moore are the only power conference players nationally averaging 16.0+ points, 4.0+ rebounds and 4.0+ assists while shooting .500+ from the field. Five of Wake's top six players are transfers.
As for Williamson, also a transfer, the senior last played on New Year's Day in a loss at Miami before landing in protocols but is ready to go. He averages 12.9 points, third on the team. If this comes down to free throws at the end for Wake to clinch the upset, Williamson probably will have the ball because he's 37-for-40 from the free-throw line on the season, among the national leaders in percentage (92.5).
While Duke is 0-1 SU in true road games (a loss at Ohio State), Wake Forest is 10-0 at home.
It might surprise you to know that Duke will have played Wake Forest more than any other school when this one tips off – it will be the 256th meeting. Duke has played North Carolina 255 times. The first game in Duke history was against Wake in the 1905-06 season.
NCAAB free pick: This writer took the points.
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