Of all the places to play a game when you aren’t at your best, Cameron Indoor Stadium is hardly at the top of anyone’s list. That will be the case Tuesday night as the Pittsburgh Panthers travel to Durham, NC, to take on the No. 9 Duke Blue Devils. The Panthers are just 3-4 since the start of 2020 and currently sit at 4-5 in the ACC and 13-7 overall.
The Panthers’ struggles are a direct result of lapses on the defensive end. Since the turn of the year, Pittsburgh has held opponents under 0.99 points per possession just twice, and both instances were wins against North Carolina.
In the other five games, they have allowed at least 1.00 PPP and won only one of those games. In their home game against Boston College, Pittsburgh surrendered 1.11 PPP but was able to average 1.14 PPP and pull out a two-point victory.
The Panthers currently rank 331st in adjusted tempo (slow) and 297th in effective field-goal percentage, not a good combination, as reflected by their 299th ranking in offensive points per game.
Meanwhile, Duke is coming off a win against the Miami Hurricanes a week ago in which the Blue Devils cruised to a 30-point victory, avoiding a three-game losing streak. Duke had lost two games in a row for the first time since February of 2018 and really took out some aggression on the Hurricanes.
The Blue Devils are currently 16-3 overall and 6-2 in league play and looking to make a final push towards a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Vernon Carey Jr. leads the Blue Devils statistically, but this team seems to go as freshman wing Cassius Stanley goes lately. In Duke’s last six games, Stanley has averaged 16.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He is also prone to momentum-shifting plays and displays of incredible athleticism.
Duke is a 16.5-point favorite at home, with the over/under set at 137.5.
Can Pittsburgh Get To .500 In League Play?
The Panthers are a difficult team to get a read on. They have a win against Florida State, but a loss to Nicholls State. They have a win against Rutgers, but a loss to Wake Forest.
That inconsistency is reflected in their betting profile as well. The Panthers are 10-10 against the spread on the season and just 2-3 ATS in true road games.
The Panthers are a horrendous 2-18 straight up in their last 20 games on the road and 1-6 straight up in their last seven games against the Blue Devils. The Pittsburgh total has gone under in 11 of 20 games this season and in four of five true road games.
Can Duke Get Consistent?
It is difficult to trust the Blue Devils this season given their losses to Stephen F. Austin and Clemson, but Cameron is one of the biggest home-court advantages in college basketball. Duke is 9-2 straight up at home this season and 6-5 against the spread.
The Blue Devils have gone over in 13 of 19 games this season and in eight of their 11 home games. The Duke total has gone under in each of the last Duke/Pittsburgh matchups, however.
Fade Pittsburgh On The Road
This is one of the easiest picks you’ll ever make. While Jeff Capel certainly has this Pittsburgh program heading in the right direction, it just hasn’t proven it can play well on the road. Xavier Johnson has been more miss than hit this season, and Trey McGowens is historically not good on the road.
The spread of 16.5 points may sound like a lot, but Carey is going to own the glass in this game, and Johnson is averaging nearly four turnovers per game. Now he has to deal with Tre Jones. I’m taking Duke to cover, and play the over.