It’s not often under John Calipari that the Kentucky Wildcats are considered the more experienced team in a matchup against another top-5 program, but that’s exactly the situation we’re faced with as No. 2 Kentucky takes on No. 4 Duke on Tuesday at the 2018 Champions Classic in Indianapolis. Tipoff on Tuesday is at 9:30 p.m. ET. Because of that experience, the Wildcats are two-point favorites over a Blue Devils team that will feature four freshmen in the starting lineup, and the total is at 158 in the latest Kentucky vs. Duke odds. With so much NBA-caliber talent on the floor, making your Kentucky vs. Duke picks and predictions will be no easy task. That’s why you’ll want to make sure to check out SportsLine’s Projection Model before making your selections.
This model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, has returned more than $5,200 to $100 bettors on its top-rated picks the past two years.
Now the model has dialed in on Blue Devils vs. Wildcats. We can tell you it’s leaning under, and it has also generated a strong point-spread pick that hits in a whopping 75 percent of simulations. The selection is only available at SportsLine.
The model is aware that after years of Kentucky dominating the recruitment of one-and-done talent, Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils have become the gold standard in college basketball recruiting. The Blue Devils have had the No. 1 recruiting class in each of the last three seasons according to 247Sports, and most of the talent in those first two classes is already making an impact in the NBA. The expectation is that R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Zion Williamson and Tre Jones will be doing the same this time next year.
In the meantime, Krzyzewski has to figure out how to get these future stars to mesh quickly with such a challenging start to the season. The good news is that he should be able to use last season as a blueprint for how to get a lineup made up of mostly freshmen off to a quick start. Duke had neutral site wins over Michigan State, Texas and Florida as well as a road win over Indiana last November.
However, a talented roster doesn’t guarantee the Blue Devils will cover against a Kentucky program that is famous for annually fielding its own collection of blue-chip talent.
In somewhat of a departure from its usual roster composition, coach John Calipari has the luxury of relying on a combination of experienced veterans to go along with standout newcomers.
The Wildcats landed perhaps the most coveted player in the graduate transfer market in Travis, who averaged 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds for Stanford last season. The 6-8 forward was named all-conference in the Pac-12 for two consecutive seasons.
The Wildcats also benefit from the return of reliable power forward PJ Washington, who put up 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game last season. Kentucky’s standout recruiting class includes five-star forward EJ Montgomery, who appeared headed to Duke at one point. Sharp-shooter Tyler Herro is expected to provide the outside threat the Wildcats lacked last season.
The Wildcats own a 12-9 all-time advantage in this series and won the previous matchup by 11 points in the 2015 Champions Classic.
Who wins Blue Devils-Wildcats? And which side of the spread can you bank on a whopping 75 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you should be all over Tuesday, all from the model that’s up more than $5,200 on college basketball picks the past two years.
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