Albany NY +17 1/2 (-105) and Duke -17 1/2 (-115)

Duke lost in the first round of last season’s tournament as a 2 seed vs. a 15 seed so their guard will certainly be up in their matchup with Albany. The Great Danes are lead by Guard Mike Black who was very impressive in their conference tournament. He is their leader any chance of an upset will start with him. He can penetrate into the lane and create scoring opportunities for himself or teammates. He is not a high percentage shooter but he is their go to guy. Senior guard Jacob Iati is certainly not physically imposing generously listed at 5 foot 10 and 165 pounds, however he plays extremely hard and more than makes up for his size. He takes over 6 three pointers a game and connects at a 40% clip.

Albany’s biggest problem is that they turn the ball over at a rapid rate and that can be lethal when you are trying to slay Goliath. Duke is a perennial powerhouse and their top three players are seniors, which has become increasingly rare in recent years. Mason Plumlee is a four-year rotation players who has seen his statistics increase every year. He averages 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. He is a monster on the inside and Albany won’t have anybody that can even come close to stopping him inside. Senior guard Seth Curry is one of the best shooters in the nation and comes from tremendous shooting lineage. His brother Steph is arguably the best shooter in the world and his father is one of the leading 3 point shooters is NBA history. He has made many big shots in his career and is certain to rise in crucial situations. Senior forward Ryan Kelly appears to be a huge part of Duke’s success as they have only 1 loss in games he has played in. At 6 foot 11 he can do virtually everything on the floor. He can score on the inside, however due to Plumlee’s presence he spends a lot of time on the perimeter where he is an excellent passer. He also somehow manages to shoot 48% from the 3-point line, which makes him the fine all around player that he is. After a somewhat rocky start to the season sophomore Quinn Cook has taken over the point guard position and had a fantastic second half. He averages 5 assists and shoots 42% from deep.

Like most Duke teams they are extremely well coached and will flop on the ground and draw charges anytime an offensive player even looks in their direction. 18 points is rather high in an NCAA tournament game. Albany is capable of catching fire from the outside and keeping it close for a while, however in the end Duke is certain to go on one of their famous runs and pull away big. There is just too much of a talent gap for Albany to overcome both in the game and against the spread.

Ray's Free Pick: Take Duke -17 1/2

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