By Jordan Horrobin | | 4 mins
Duke vs Kentucky Picks & Predictions Champions Classic 2021
The first of hopefully many top-10 matchups in the college basketball betting season tips off on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET, as No. 9 Duke takes on No. 10 Kentucky in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Right now, betting apps are giving the slight edge to the Blue Devils on the moneyline.
5 Keys To Duke vs. Kentucky
One last ride: Tuesday marks the beginning of Mike Krzyzewski’s sunset season at Duke. The Hall of Fame coach, who owns a .764 win percentage over 46 years (with 35 NCAA tournaments, 12 Final Fours and five championships) will retire next spring.
Fredrick’s status in doubt: Sharpshooting transfer CJ Fredrick might not play for Kentucky as he continues to deal with a lower-body issue. Fredrick, a 46.6% three-point shooter through two seasons at Iowa, returned to practice on Saturday for the first time in months.
Griffin out: Duke will be down a notable player on its side, with freshman wing A.J. Griffin out until later this month with a knee injury. Given that Griffin is new to this level, it’s difficult to calculate the impact of his absence. But the five-star recruit is 17th in 247 Sports’ national class rankings.
Tshiebwe looks to dominate: Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe has already dominated his teammates - posting 24 points and 21 rebounds in a scrimmage late last month - and now it’s time to see what he can do against a highly-touted opponent. Tshiebwe averaged close to a double-double in two seasons at West Virginia before transferring.
Matchup history: Every three years since 2012, the Wildcats and Blue Devils have met for an early-season, neutral site game. Duke has taken two out of three matchups so far, including a 118-84 drubbing as 2.5-point underdogs in 2018.
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Duke vs. Kentucky Champions Classic 2021 Best Bet
In a presumably-tight matchup like this one, we’re looking for even the slightest detail to create an edge. With the potential absences of both Fredrick and Griffin, we believe that edge goes to Duke.
Keep an eye out to see if Fredrick’s status is solidified before tip-off, but there was plenty of doubt that he’d play. That’s more of a loss than Griffin, who you’d expect to have some growing pains anyway in his very first college action.
The 1.5-point spread at sportsbooks and betting sites would liven up Duke’s odds slightly, but in the event this comes down to a final shot we’d prefer to roll with the Blue Devils on the moneyline. You can get them at -120 with DraftKings.
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