Duke in Hot Water Plus Take it Easy on LeBron People

Coach K
Coach K
I certainly hope Mike Krzyzewski did all the right things pertaining to a former player's alleged sexual assault.

Duke University is finding itself once again embroiled in a sexual assault case but this time around it isn’t the storied LaCrosse program. This time around the stakes are much higher because the spotlight is now on the most prominent person at the University and that would Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Back in late January, Coach K dismissed Rasheed Sulaimon for “repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations.” Now as it turns out, Sulaimon is alleged to have been in two different sexual assaults at the school.

Both accusers allegedly told people about the alleged attacks but did not go to anyone of authority. Options included the Durham Police as well as the Office of Student Conduct on campus. According to ESPN, the two women chose not to got to authorities because they feared what could come from the Duke fan base. If you think that line of thinking is wrong then read the story about the reporter who covered the Jameis Winston case in Tallahassee, Florida.

He was barraged with death threats and was attacked at every turn for simply doing his job as an investigative reporter.

I have no idea if what took place with Sulaimon and the two women involved but that won’t be the biggest story about this by a long shot if there is evidence that Mike Krzyzewski knew about this and did nothing. Coach K has power beyond belief on the Duke campus but people also said the same thing about Joe Paterno and Penn State and we know how that ended up.

If ESPN’s sources are accurate, then Krzyzewski did indeed know about about the alleged assaults as far back as as March of 2014.

I am in no way suggesting that this is on par with the events of Penn State; hopefully nothing ever will be again. But this can’t be waved away, not in 2015 where the media and more importantly social media are everywhere. We’ve already seen a legendary coach taken down for not doing enough. I sure would hate to see it happen to another.

Fans need to check their memories a bit when it comes to the greats missing shots like LeBron did.

Take it easy on King James

I’ve written in these very pages before that I will never view LeBron James in the same stratosphere as Michael Jordan and the most simple reason why is the lack of a killer instinct. That said, the people throwing darts at James for his two missed free throws with just four seconds remaining in Houston the other night need to chill out.

“Jordan would have never missed those! Kobe wouldn’t have missed those either!”

I’ve got news for you folks… Both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant missed plenty of game-winning shots during their careers. To say they didn’t means you have not seen enough of either of them because I’ve seen it and I know many others have too.

Like I said, I will never be able to place James above His Airness simply because he lacks the titles but just as importantly he lacks the killer instinct that drove Jordan so hard. That’s not his fault, it’s just how it is. Either way, lay off LeBron for crying out loud. There isn’t a professional alive who hasn’t missed key shots down the stretch.

Sometimes I wonder what universe you people are living in when you say “Jordan would have never missed those.”

ACC Coastal Division Odds for 2014

Larry Fedora and the Tar Heels are looking to capture the ACC Coastal Division.

As my tour around college football continues, today is the ACC Coastal.

North Carolina 7/4 – The Tar Heels have seven starters back on defense but three of those that are gone went to the NFL. The offense returns eight players but one of the three gone is tight end Eric Ebron who was an absolute stud for UNC. Other than Notre Dame, the non-conference schedule is not overly difficult. Besides the Irish, the Heels also have road trips to Clemson, Virginia and Miami. I see UNC finishing with seven to eight wins this year.

Miami 3/1 – Al Golden enters his fourth year with a 22-15 record and seven starters returning on each side of the ball. QB Jake Heaps who is with his third team now, seems to have the keys to the offense but Golden has yet to commit. The Canes were selected as the favorites to win the Coastal and that possibility obviously exists with their talent. Miami opens at the team they last saw in a game and that’s ACC newcomer Louisville who blasted the Canes in last season’s Russell Athletic Bowl. They also have trips to Nebraska, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech as well. They do get Florida State and Duke at home. The division title is there for them but is the schedule too much?

I have a feeling Frank Beamer and the Hokies will challenge for the Coastal Division if not win it.

Virginia Tech 3/1 – The Hokies return nine starters on offense but just five on defense from a team that struggled last season with just eight wins and a blowout bowl loss to UCLA. QB Logan Thomas is gone and I think that’s a good thing as he never lived up to expectations. Despite few starters back on D, the talent is there especially in the secondary and on the D-Line. If the offensive line can gel, then the Hokies are a legitimate threat to win the division. The tough road trips are to Ohio State, North Carolina and Duke.

Duke 6/1 – The Blue Devils return eight starters on offense and six on defense as they look to follow up last year’s division title. Duke must replace three starters on the defensive line and Anthony Boone is the only QB with experience. The Blue Devils should roll to a 4-0 record against weak non-conference opponents but then they have four conference road games in their next five and among them are trips to Miami, Pitt, Syracuse and Georgia Tech. I do not see repeat for Duke in 2014.

Georgia Tech 8/1 – The Yellow Jackets return just 10 starters from last year’s team that featured some big wins and heartbreaking losses. Because of the offensive system, losing backs isn’t usually a big deal. Coach Paul Johnson just reloads in the backfield. Other than Georgia to finish the season, the non-conference slate is easy. Besides the trip to Athens, GT also has trips to Virginia Tech, North Carolina and NC State. If the defense comes together, the Jackets can be a threat in the division.

Pitt 25/1 – The Panthers come off of a 6-7 record in Paul Chryst’s first year in Pittsburgh. Eight starters return on offense and just five on defense. Pitt will rely on a new quarterback but he’ll have the benefit of receiver Tyler Boyd who was even better than Larry Fitzgerald was as a freshman. Tough road games are at Boston College, North Carolina and Miami. 6-6 is very possible again in the Steel City.

Virginia 25/1 – With 16 starters (9-Off/7-Def) returning, Mike London has no more excuses especially considering the solid recruiting class as well. London is one of America’s ‘coaches on the hot seat.’ The first four games will tell the story for the 2014 Cavaliers. They host UCLA, Richmond and Louisville and then travel to BYU. The only way London survives is by getting to a bowl game and even that isn’t a guarantee.

The Pick: I have a feeling Coach Frank Beamer will have his Hokies ready to be back among the elite in the ACC.The Tar Heels could put pressure on both Miami and the Hokies but I’m not sure I’m buying the UNC hype.

A Look at Favorites and Long-Shots As I Pick the Final Four

Billy Donovan points the way to Florida's third basketball championship.

The NCAA Basketball Tournament starts today and like the rest of you, my brackets are completed and have been submitted. I’m certainly not going to bore you with every one of my picks but in case you want to throw some last minute money on a team I’m going to give you the odds on the favorites and a couple of long-shots as well as my Final Four.

Florida 11/2 – I really don’t care how good or bad a conference is. If you go unbeaten in conference play you’re doing something right. This has been the most consistent team all year long despite having a very average offense. The defense is very good and Coach Billy Donovan has solid senior experience.

Michigan State 7/1 – The Spartans have become the overwhelming pick to not only get to the Final Four but to win the whole thing as well. Their run through the Big Ten Tournament masked some of the issues that plagued them in the season including their bevy of injuries. Are they peaking at the right time?

Louisville 13/2 – Speaking of peaking at the right time, the defending National Champs blitzed the field in their conference tournament and quite frankly, deserved a higher seed. Louisville will have experience on their side but they are under .500 in single-digit games and their free throw shooting is brutal.

Sean Miller has the Wildcats in prime position for a title run.

Arizona 9/1 – Since losing forward Brandon Ashley the Wildcats have gone 9-4. They were 21-0 prior to that. Despite the loss, I still think the ‘Cats are a threat because of their defense. If they can get just enough offense from their guards and big men they have a serious shot.

Virginia 10/1 – The Cavs aren’t exactly a scoring machine but they make up for that loss of points with stifling defense. They have held opponents to around 55 points per game. In the big dance, you win with defense, rebounding and a solid backcourt and Virginia has all three.

Wichita State 10/1 – What can you say? The Shockers are 34-0; score 74 points per game while giving up almost 20 points less per game. They have plenty of experience from last year’s Final Four run and play very efficient basketball. Do you trust their weak schedule though?

Kansas 10/1 – The Jayhawks will begin the tourney without Joel Embiid for at least the first round and possibly more. I would go so far as to say I don’t think you’ll see him at all. KU is just 2-3 since his back injury and their turnovers need to be reduced. Andrew Wiggins can carry this team but how far?

Duke 12/1 – My concern with the Blue Devils is rebounding and going cold. They rely so heavily on the three-point shot that going cold is a death sentence. Jabari Parker can take over games at times but he will need help to advance the Dookies very far.

Long-Shots (50/1 or Lower)

Ohio State 66/1 – The Buckeyes started so well this season and never really seemed to recover from their mid-season swoon. Thad Matta can flat-out coach in the tournament so keep an eye on them.

Providence 200/1 – The Friars come in as hot as anyone having blown through the competition to win the Big East. They aren’t real deep which is an issue but they rebound well and knock down their free throws as well.

North Carolina State 300/1 – The Wolfpack picked up a couple of big wins in the ACC Tournament to get themselves into a play-in game. They took advantage by beating Xavier to make the Big Dance. They must improve their three-point shooting and foul shooting to have a legitimate chance.

Tulsa 1,000/1 – The Golden Hurricane has won 11 straight games and is coached by Danny Manning who once carried Kansas to a National Title. Why couldn’t he do the same from the bench?

FINAL FOUR PICKS: Florida, Arizona, Louisville, Iowa State.

NATIONAL CHAMPION: Florida. Good defense, leadership, coaching and consistency add up to a title.

Duke 7.5 Chalk at Home, Florida double-digit Favorite Over Kentucky

Duke hosts North Carolina on Saturday looking to bounce back against the streaking Tar Heels. North Carolina, ranked No. 14, is 23-7 SU and 16-14 ATS.

The Tar Heels have won 12 straight games and faceoff against Duke, ranked No. 4 in the nation at 23-7 SU and 17-12-1 ATS.

The game will be played at Cameron Indoor Stadium. In the first matchup of the season, North Carolina defeated Duke 74-66 as a 2-point dog on February 20.

In the 12-game winning streak, the Tar Heels covered the first 9 games but have failed to cover in their past 3. However, North Carolina has covered in 7 of its past 8 visits to Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The current line on Bovada has Duke favored at home by 7.5 points. However, Duke has had leadership problems this season and has struggled lately from beyond the three-point line, which is not a good sign heading toward the home stretch in the regular season.

The win streaking by North Carolina is the longest it has had since it was 13-0 to start the 2008-09 season. The Tar Heels have won their past three games by four points or fewer.

Duke is 12-7-1 ATS on its home court and 1-4-1 against the number in its past six games played. The UNDER has cashed in 5 of the past 6 games Duke has played.

The UNDER has cashed in 9 of the past 11 games the two teams have played head to head. Duke has covered the spread in 6 of the past 9 games following a loss against the spread.

The Blue Devils were embarrassed during the week losing to Wake Forest after being a double-digit chalk. That most likely lit a fire under the Tar Heel players and they should have additional motivation to win this matchup.

Duke has more talent and the home court advantage the Blue Devils enjoy at home is huge. Duke is a perfect 16-0 at home this season.

Pick: Duke by 11

Kentucky ranked No. 25 in the nation visits the No. 1 ranked Florida Gators. The Gators are 28-2 SU and 12-11-3 ATS. Kentucky is 22-8 SU and 14-13-2 ATS.

Florida was a 2.5-point dog in the first matchup and won outright on February 15.

On topbet and betonline, Florida is favored by 8.5 points. With a win, Florida can go to 18-0 for the first time in SEC play.

Kentucky won its last time out over Alabama by 7 points to avoid three straight losses. Kentucky is second in the SEC at 12-5 but trails Florida by 5 games.

The UNDER has gone 7-2 over the past 9 games Kentucky has played. Kentucky has covered just 3 of its past 17 games played on the road.

Pick: Florida by 15 and the UNDER

Arizona laying 4.5 at California, Syracuse Favored by 2.5 vs. Duke

Saturday’s lineup of college hoops is highlighted by two great matchups featuring the top two ranked teams in the country. In one, No. 2 ranked Syracuse hosts No. 6 ranked Duke, while in the other No. 1 ranked Arizona visits a tough California team.

Syracuse is 20-0 SU and 13-3 ATS this season and has gone 6-0 against the number in his past six games. They will face a Duke team that is 17-4 SU and 13-8 ATS. Duke also has cashed tickets as they have covered in their past 4 games during a 5-0 SU run.

Duke is shooting over 41% from 3-point territory and has 194 treys on the season, which is sixth in the nation. The Blue Devils love an up-tempo game and average over 81 points per game.

Duke has not played since Monday, giving them ample opportunity to practice against the formidable zone defense of Syracuse.

The Orange is holding opponents to just 58 points a game on 41 % shooting overall.

The defense for Duke is no slouch, over the past five games, the defense has held its opponents to 42% shooting while forcing over 13 turnovers each game.

Jim Boeheim the Syracuse head coach said that Duke is currently playing as good as or better than any other ACC team.

The UNDER has cashed in 7 of the past 8 Syracuse games. The Orange has gone 6-1-1 over its past eight games at home.

Duke has a record of 7-3 against the number over its past 10 games versus teams with a winning percentage higher than .600.

Bovada currently has Syracuse listed as the favorite by 2.5 points.

Pick: Duke 72-69

The Arizona Wildcats are tops in the nation at 21-0 SU and 13-7 ATS. They have gone 0-3 ATS over their past three games. Tonight they face a tough California team that is 14-7 SU and 10-10 against the number.

Sportsbooks like topbet, betonline and sportsbook.com have Arizona favored by 4.5 points.

Arizona has struggled against the Golden Bears of California. Last season Arizona lost at home 77-69 to California and is 1-3-1 ATS over the past five games versus California.

On Wednesday, Arizona showed why it is number one in the nation holding the Stanford Cardinal to just a single field goal in its last 16 possession to earn a big 60-57 victory.

Arizona however was just 18 of 29 from the free throw line. Stanford also outrebounded the Wildcats.

While Arizona has played well of late, Cal is 0-3 SU as well as 0-3 ATS over its past three games including a loss at home 89-78 in overtime to Arizona State. Cal is now 10-1 SU at home this season.

The Wildcats are 5-1 ATS over their last six games on the road and 14-5 against the number in their past 19 games against a team with a winning percentage above .500.

Cal has a record of 11-5 ATS over its past 16 games versus teams that have a winning percentage higher than .600.

The underdog has a record of 3-0-1 ATS over the past four games between the two schools.

Pick: Arizona 73-65

Great College Hoops Action Tonight

Lamar Patterson and the Pitt Panthers host Duke in a big ACC match-up.

In making my transition from the National Football League and college football, I’ve been able to focus some attention on the NBA but now I finally am returning to the last place where basketball truly is played as close to the way it was intended as possible. It used to be that Monday night was always the biggest night in college hoops action but these days you can find big games nearly every night across your television dial.

This Monday night however feels like a throwback with classic Big East and Big 12 match-ups and a potentially new rivalry in the ACC. Let’s get to them shall we?

Duke (+3.5) at Pitt – As it’s maiden voyage into Atlantic Coast Conference continues, the highlight of said voyage arrives for Pitt tonight. The Duke Blue Devils come to Western Pennsylvania for the first time with both schools being members of the same conference. Not surprisingly, this has been the hottest ticket in Pitt basketball history as students have braved the cold to camp out and hope for tickets.

The Panthers are unbeaten at home in the Petersen Events Center and they will need to rely on their very efficient shooting and unselfish play to beat the Devils. While this isn’t the usual dominant Duke teams we’ve seen in the past but this is still a very good team under Coach K. Pitt is 5-1-1 against the spread in their last seven games while the Blue Devils are just 1-4 against the spread in their last five road contests.

Look for big games from Lamar Patterson of Pitt and Jabari Parker of Duke but it might be the scrappy guys who make the difference. Take the Panthers giving the points to win at home.

Marcus Smart leads the Cowboys into Norman to face the Sooners.

Oklahoma State (-3) at Oklahoma – The 11th ranked Cowboys travel to Norman to play their rivals and 25th-ranked Sooners. Oklahoma State is 16-3 while Oklahoma is 16-4. Both schools already have two losses in Big 12 Conference play while conference leader Kansas is 6-0. The Cowboys are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven road games and they are also 1-4 against the spread in their last five road games at Llyod Noble Center in Norman.

OK State is led by  Marcus Smart and Markel Brown who average about 17 and 16 points respectively per game. Cameron Clark and Buddy Hield of Oklahoma average almost the exact same points per game respectively as well.

The Sooners are 19-4 straight up in their last 23 games at home but I like the Cowboys to cover because of a little bit tougher schedule.

Villanova (-5) at Georgetown – The #4 Wildcats hit the road to the nation’s capitol where a rather disappointing Hoyas’s team  is waiting for them. At 17-2, Villanova trails Big East Conference newcomer by just a half a game for the Big East lead. Georgetown is just 11-8 but is just 3-5 in the Big East Conference.

Jayvaughn Pinkston and James Bell each average 15 points per game to lead ‘Nova. The Hoyas are led by D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera who averages 17 points per game and Markel Starks who averages 16 points per game. The difference between the two teams however is that Villanova gets more scoring from other players than Georgetown does and that explains Villanova scoring about ten points more per game than the Hoyas.

The Wildcats are 1-4 against the spread when playing at Verizon Center in Georgetown while the Hoyas are 8-2 straight up in their last ten against Villanova. I expect that Georgetown will play well but these are drastically different teams. I look for Villanova to cover and get the win in Big East play.


College Basketball Matchups, Lines, Picks

College basketball has taken center stage and with conference schedules well under way, teams are jockeying for position for their eventual conference championships and possible selection to March Madness.

This weekend, with football taking a weekend off, other than the not so popular Pro Bowl, NCAA basketball takes center stage.

These are two games highlighting the busy Saturday schedule in the NCAA.

Florida State vs. Duke (-8.5)

In the ACC, Florida State visits Duke. The Seminoles are 13-5 SU and 11-5 ATS and look for their eighth cover over their last 10 games against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke is ranked No. 18 in the nation and is 15-4 SU and 11-8 ATS. The visiting team is 4-0 ATS over the past four games in this matchup.

Jabari Parker, the Duke freshman sensation leads the team in scoring with 19 points per game and averages 7.7 rebounds per game.

FSU has a shooting percentage of 52% on its three-point shots over its last four games, with Aaron Thomas hitting 8 of 13 during that span.

Florida State is 6-3 against the spread over its past eight games on the road. Duke has a 10-4 ATS record over its past 14 games at home. The UNDER has cashed in 4 of the past 5 games FSU has played on the road. The UNDER has cashed in 14 of the past 19 games played between the two schools.

Pick: Duke less the points

Michigan vs. Michigan State (-5.5)

Michigan visits Michigan State in a matchup of archrivals and two ranked teams. The Wolverines are red-hot entering the game and have moved up to No. 25 in the nation, while the Spartans have lost just one game this season and are ranked No. 3.

Michigan State is 18-1 SU and 10-6-2 ATS. The Spartans will be attempting to cover for the fourth consecutive game versus the Wolverines. Michigan is 14-4 SU and 9-6-1 ATS. The Wolverines have won eight straight games and two straight over ranked opponents. The Spartans are on an 11 game winning streak.

The Spartans however have some injury problems as Branden Dawson broke a bone in one of his hands while slapping a table while watching films of opponents. Adreian Payne is questionable for the game due to an injured foot. The two players combined average over 26 points and 16 rebounds per game.

Michigan does not have the injuries the Spartans have but will be without Mitch McGary who had back surgery to end his season.

Last season Michigan State won at home and lost to Michigan on the road.

The Wolverines are 6-1-1 against the spread over their last 8 games. Michigan State has a record of 8-2 ATS over its past 10 games. The UNDER has cashed in all 4 of the past four games between the two schools. The home team has covered the number in 4 of the past 5 games between the two schools.

Pick: Michigan plus the points

MAC Decided Tonight; Big Ones on Tap Tomorrow in College Football

Heisman hopeful Jordan Lynch leads the Huskies against Bowling Green for the MAC Title.

Tonight the MAC takes center stage in college football and that is but a mere appetizer for what’s to come tomorrow. Check it all out right here.

Bowling Green (+4.5) vs. Northern Illinois (at Ford Field) – The Mid-American Conference is in the spotlight for a second straight year and in the center of that spotlight is Northern Illinois. Last season, the Huskies finished off a perfect season by beating Kent State. The win sent them to Orange Bowl. They have the same opportunity tonight as they play Bowling Green. A win pretty much guarantees another BCS trip while a loss sends the Huskies to far less financially rewarding pastures.

I do not expect the Falcons to go quietly however. Bowling Green is 5th in the nation in scoring defense at just 13 points per game while the Huskies’ D gives up about 10 points more per game. I was impressed that Bowling Green went to Buffalo last week and knocked off the Bulls 24-7. The winner of that game grabbed the MAC East Title and the Falcons did just that on the road.

The difference in this one however is the amazing Jordan Lynch who will be under center for NIU. If Lynch is not in New York as one of the four Heisman Trophy finalists then there ought to be an investigation. He will be the difference in a fairly tight ball game but I like the Huskies to cover.

Texas (+15) at Baylor – This one is fairly simple. Should Oklahoma State lose against rival Oklahoma in the early game in the Big 12 then whoever wins between the Longhorns and Bears wins the conference and the BCS bid. In terms of on the field with these two we have to credit Mack Brown who has guided his team to an 8-3 record when many thought he’d be lucky to get to six wins when the ‘Horns were 1-2 on the season.

Baylor bounced back nicely from losing to the Cowboys and still has hopes for a BCS game. QB Bryce Petty has announced he will return for his senior season which should provide some motivation for the Bears. I like Baylor to win but the 15 points is just too much so take Texas.

Look for Chelf to stay on his hot streak against rival Oklahoma.

Oklahoma (+10) at Oklahoma State – You already know the scenario from the game listed above and quite frankly I expect the Cowboys to put a significant whooping on the rival Sooners tomorrow. The Cowboys are 1-4 straight up in their last five home games against OU and I believe the over/under of 58 will go over with the Sooners averaging 31 points per game and the Cowboys averaging 41.

Sadly at 9-2, the Sooners’ season has been a disappointment with a loss to Texas and a serious blowout loss to Baylor. Injuries have not helped but Bob Stoops knows he can’t use them as an excuse. Regardless, I like Oklahoma State to cover.

Ohio State (-6) vs. Michigan State (Lucas Oil Stadium) – The Buckeyes’ defense was exposed last week by a very average Michigan offense and you can bet Mark Dantonio paid attention. His concern however will be stopping Ohio State because they can run the ball with several threats and Braxton Miller can throw it well too. I really want to take Sparty but OSU is too athletic. Take the Bucks to cover.

Missouri (-3) vs. Auburn (Georgia Dome) – Here’s the big question; can Auburn re-focus after such an amazing win over their most hated rival? I think they can but this year has been pretty magical for a Missouri team too that had to manage without their starting QB for much of it. Mizzou leads the SEC in both sacks and interceptions and I like them to cover.

Duke vs. Florida State (-29) (Bank of America Stadium) – Jameis Winston was cleared of any charges from an alleged sexual assault that happened a year ago. While being investigated he stayed sharp and played pretty well. Now that this is off his mind, how much better will he be? The Blue Devils have been an outstanding story but this one is over early. I’m taking the Seminoles to cover.

Rivalry Games Dot the College Football Landscape Today



Miller and Meyer look to extend their winning streak against Michigan.

Its rivalry week which means anything can happen in games in Auburn, Ann Arbor and Chapel Hill but do I like the dogs or the favorites in today’s action? Check it below.

Ohio State (-16) at Michigan – It’s amazing how cyclical this rivalry has been over the last two decades. Under Lloyd Carr, Michigan dominated the series with the Buckeyes while Ohio State behind Jim Tressel turned the tables. OSU Head Coach Urban Meyer is 1-0 against the team from ‘up north’ while Brady Hoke is 1-1 against the team from ‘Ohio.’

For the Buckeyes, the stakes are simple. They already have a date with Michigan State next week in the Big Ten Championship Game but in order to have any chance of reaching the BCS National Title game they must win in Ann Arbor and win convincingly. Because Michigan has drastically under-achieved this season, a slim victory over the Wolverines probably won’t sit well with pollsters.

Michigan has struggled to run the ball and has struggled even more in protecting quarterback Devin Gardner whose play has declined in recent weeks. The Wolverines are 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games at home versus the Buckeyes. Meanwhile, OSU is 4-2 straight up in their last six trips to Michigan Stadium. I see a big time beat down by the Buckeyes in the Big House. Take Ohio State to cover.

Cutcliffe has worked wonders at Duke and has them on a seven-game winning streak.

Duke (+6) at North Carolina – It isn’t the same as the rivalry on the hard-court down on Tobacco Road but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot at stake in this match-up. The Blue Devils can clinch a spot in the ACC Championship Game with a victory over their rivals. A loss would create a three-way tie with Duke, Virginia Tech and Miami who won their season finale yesterday.

The over/under is 58 and I’m loving the over as both teams average over 32 points per game and each gives up about 24 per game defensively. Duke has won seven straight games and is riding a wave unseen in these parts in a long, long time. UNC is 8-1 straight up in their last nine home games with the Blue Devils and that concerns me.

What also concerns me is Tar Heels’ tight end Eric Ebron who could find himself as the top tight end entering the 2014 NFL Draft. If Duke cannot handle or at the very least contain Ebron it could be a long day for their defense. With that said, Duke is too much to pass up at +6. Take the Blue Devils in this one.

Alabama (-11) at Auburn – I’ve struggled to get a grip on this one all week but I finally feel like I’ve got some things to go on. The knock on Alabama has been the fact that they don’t win dynamically enough or put up the points that Florida State and/or Ohio State do. That won’t mean a lick to Nick Saban and it never has. He knows a win means a trip to Atlanta to play either South Carolina or Missouri in the SEC Title Game.

Auburn and first-year coach Gus Malzahn also know what is at stake for them. They’ve already completed the season’s biggest turnaround in terms of wins and losses versus the previous season but now they can take another step. A win sends them to Atlanta and puts a bitter end to their rivals’ tremendous streak of success.

The Iron Bowl will be a vicious battle but I think it comes down to two things; big game experience and defense and both of those favor the Crimson Tide. In order for the Tigers to have any success they must run the ball early. It will help them set up their passing game which is typically not much of a threat. Can Auburn handle the pressure of this type of game? It’s a fair question.

The Tigers are 3-6 against the spread in their last nine games at home against the Tide which bears some thought but I really like Alabama to win this game but 11 is just too big so take Auburn getting those points.

Friday Night College Football Action Leads Into Saturday

Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel need two wins to keep any BCS hopes alive.

There have been college football games on every other night this week so why not Friday? Navy and San Jose State is the offereing for this evening but I’m also looking at three key Saturday games as well.

Navy (+3) at San Jose State – The Midshipmen have already reached the six-win total and will be ‘bowling’ once again. The Spartans are on the verge at 5-5 and has unbeaten Fresno State in their season finale. Translation? SJSU needs to defeat Navy and eliminate any doubt of going to a bowl game.

It won’t be easy though because Navy comes in with their usually impressive ground game. The Middies average 308 yards per game rushing which is good for sixth in the nation.

The Spartans will counter with an aerial attack that ranks 11th in the nation. They average over 325 yards per game through the air. The over/under tonight is 59.5 and I definitely like the ‘over.’ Navy gives up about 25 points per game while the Spartans are allowing over 31 points per game.

SJSU is 6-2 in their last eight home games straight up. I like them to get a win and become bowl eligible in a shootout.

Texas A&M (+4) at LSU – Johnny Manziel and the Aggies hit the road for what could be the final two games of his collegiate career. Stop one is in Baton Rouge where the Tigers await. A&M still has hopes of a BCS bowl but I think winning out more than likely means a trip back to the Cotton Bowl where they destroyed Oklahoma last year.

LSU had a week to recover from their beat down in Tuscaloosa. The over/under in this one is 77.5 and I think you can safely take the over. The Aggies defense has been questionable all season, especially against the run and that means big doses of LSU running back Jeremy Hill.

With the LSU defense struggling as well, look for Manziel to make big plays down the field in the passing game. The Aggies getting four is very tempting but I think Zach Mettenberger and the LSU passing game become the difference. Take the Tigers.

Can Fitgerald's Wildcats end their six game losing streak against Michigan State?

Michigan State (-7) at Northwestern – What can you say about the Wildcats? Since opening 4-0, they have lost six straight. The last two games have been decided on the final play losing on a hail mary at Nebraska and then in triple overtime to Michigan.

Meanwhile, the Spartans can officially wrap-up the Legends’ Division title with a win in Evanston. They will ride their top-ranked defense and an incredibly improved offense led by Connor Cook at quarterback.

Personally I think Northwestern hurts itself by moving back and forth between quarterbacks but that’s just my opinion. They desperately need a win in order to keep bowl hopes alive.

MSU is 6-0-1 against the spread in their last seven games on the road. I love them in this one where half the crowd will be green and white.

Duke (-5.5) at Wake Forest – The Demon Deacons are 4-6 but still have dreams of getting bowl eligible by winning their final two games to reach 6-6. Wake has lost three straight games with the offense scoring just 24 points over that stretch.

The Blue Devils find themselves in some uncharted waters at 8-2. They lead the ACC Coastal Division and a win here coupled with a win at North Carolina next week would give them their first ever trip to the ACC Title game.

Under David Cutcliffe, Duke has become very balanced offensively and has improved significantly on defense as well. Duke is 5-0 straight up in their last five games while the Deacons are 1-5 against the spread in their last six home games against Duke.

This is a special year for the Devils. I like them to cover.