Midwest Region Second Round Betting Picks: #14 Mercer Bears vs #3 Duke Blue Devils
2014 NCAA Tournament
Midwest Region – Second Round
PNC Arena – Raleigh, North Carolina
#14 Mercer Bears vs #3 Duke Blue Devils
Friday, March 21, 2014, 12:15 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Duke -12 1/2
Current Line: Duke -12 1/2
Opening Total: 142
Current Total: 140 1/2
Opening Money Line: Duke -1200 / Mercer +760
Current Money Line: Duke -1150 / Mercer +750
The 26-8 Duke Blue Devils are making their 19th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Blue Devils had an outside shot at one of the four #1 seeds for the NCAA Tournament, but Duke lost to Virginia 72-63 in the ACC Championship game. Duke was seeded #3 in the brutal Midwest region. The Blue Devils will open play Friday in the second round in nearby Raleigh against the #14 seed 26-8 Mercer Bears. The winner of Duke and Mercer will play either #6 Massachusetts or #11 Tennessee in the third round Sunday.
Mercer went 14-4 in the Atlantic Sun and tied for the regular season title with Florida Gulf Coast. Mercer has won 4 straight games including a 68-60 win over FGCU in the Atlantic Sun Championship game. The Bears went 0-2 against NCAA tournament teams this season. Mercer has never won an NCAA Tournament game in two previous appearances. The Bears had not made it to the dance since 1985 before this season.
Duke went 13-5 in the ACC and tied for third with North Carolina. The loss to Virginia snapped a 3 game winning streak for the Blue Devils. Duke went 7-5 against NCAA Tournament teams, including 4-4 against the #1 and #2 seeds in the tournament.
Duke leads the series against Mercer 3-1. The Blue Devils have won 2 straight games in the series including the last in 1997. The other three games in the series took place in the 1920’s. Current Duke assistant coaches Steve Wojciechowski and Nate James played for Duke in that 1997 game against Mercer.
Mercer is coached by Bob Hoffman. The Bears have losses at Texas, at Evansville, at Ohio, at Oklahoma, North Florida twice, at South Carolina Upstate, and at Florida Gulf Coast. Mercer has key wins against Seton Hall, Yale, at Valparaiso, Denver, at Ole Miss, East Tennessee State twice, USC Upstate twice, and Florida Gulf Coast twice. The Bears are 2-3 ATS and the total is 3-2 this season.
Mercer is outscoring teams 79-66 this season. The Bears are 324 nationally in scoring. Mercer is shooting 47.6% from the field and 38.6% from 3 point range. The Bears are #37 or better in both categories. Mercer makes 73.2% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 40% from the field and 29.8% from 3 point range. The Bears are #31 in field goal defense and #12 in 3 point defense nationally. Mercer averages 38 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.6. The Bears are #39 nationally in rebounding. Mercer averages 16.4 assists, 11.9 turnovers, 6 steals and 4.2 blocks per game.
Guard Langston Hall averages 14.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Forward Daniel Coursey averages 9.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. Forward Bud Thomas averages 9.1 points, 4.1 assists, and 1.9 assists per game. Guard Anthony White, Jr. averages 8.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Guard Ike Nwamu averages 8.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1 assist per game. Forward Jakob Gollon averages 7.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1 steal per game. Darious Moten, Monty Brown, Phillip Leonard, Jibri Bryan, T.J. Hallice, and Kevin Canevari will also get significant minutes in a deep rotation.
Duke is coached by Mike Krzyzewski. Duke has losses to Kansas in Chicago, Arizona in Madison Square Garden, at Notre Dame, at Clemson, at Syracuse, at North Carolina, at Wake Forest, and Virginia. The Blue Devils have key wins over Davidson, Florida Atlantic, East Carolina, Vermont, Alabama at MSG, Michigan, UCLA in New York, Georgia Tech, Virginia, NC State twice, at Miami, Florida State, at Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Boston College, Maryland, at Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and North Carolina. The Blue Devils are 18-15 -1 ATS and the total is 15-18 this season.
Duke is outscoring teams 79-67 this season. The Blue Devils are #28 in scoring nationally. Duke is shooting 46.3% from the field and 39.4% from 3 point range. The Blue Devils are #16 nationally in 3 point shooting. Duke is shooting 72.6% from the free throw line. Blue Devil opponents are shooting 45.3% from the field and 30.5% from 3 point range. Duke is #23 nationally in three point defense. The Blue Devils average 34.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 30.5 rebounds per game. Duke averages 14.5 assists, 9.5 turnovers, 7 steals and 3.1 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.7 assists, 12.3 turnovers, 5 steals and 3.4 blocks per game.
Freshman forward Jabari Parker averages 19.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1 steal, and 1.3 blocks per game. He is projected to be a high lottery pick in the NBA draft. Forward Rodney Hood averages 16.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. Guard Quinn Cook averages 11.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Guard Rasheed Sulaimon averages 9.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Guard Andre Dawkins averages 8.2 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. Forward Amile Jefferson averages 6.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Tyler Thornton, Matt Jones, and Josh Hairston will also get time in the rotation.
Mercer is 7-3-1 ATS after a cover, 2-5-1 after a straight up win, 1-4 against teams with winning records, 1-5 in non-conference games, 0-3-1 in Friday games, and 0-4 in neutral site games.
Duke is 5-1-1 ATS after a straight up loss, 4-1 in non-conference games, 2-5 in NCAA Tournament games, 1-3-1 after failing to cover, 1-5-1 against teams with winning records, and 1-6-1 overall.
Both Duke and Mercer are comfortable playing in the high 70’s so this should be a high scoring game. Mercer is a dangerous #14 seed with victories over Seton Hall and Ole Miss, plus a narrow 3 point loss at Texas. I think the Bears give Duke a scare, but the Blue Devils pull away late.