TV Schedule: Wednesday, Jan. 13, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Arena: Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, SC
While most of the country is still focusing on the Big 12 after the showdown between the Kansas Jayhawks and Oklahoma Sooners, the Duke Blue Devils have quietly put together a run of five straight blowout wins since their loss in Madison Square Garden to the Utah Utes. The Blue Devils, although disappointed to have already lost two games this season, are still one of the best teams in the country and look that way heading into their next matchup, a road game against the Clemson Tigers.
After a strange stretch in December where they lost three straight, the Tigers have won three straight games against NCAA tournament opposition, the Florida State Seminoles, Syracuse Orange and the then No. 16 Louisville Cardinals. Clemson, who looked like they were dead in the water just a few weeks ago, have jumped into the bubble conversation with a lot of time left in conference play.
With four back to back games against top 20 opponents, Clemson just needs to win one of these games to really solidify their place on the edge of the 2016 NCAA tournament. Duke, who has been blowing out opponents as of late, could be the Tigers’ best shot at a massive upset by coming into Greenville slightly lackadaisical.
That being said, Duke might be ranked No. 9, but they are still a clear national championship favorite. Grayson Allen is a fantastic player who can put this team on his back, while Brandon Ingram will be one of the top three picks in the 2016 NBA draft. Luke Kennard continues to get better game in and game out, and this team could easily become the overall favorite to win it all in March by the end of ACC play.
Although I want to pick Clemson in an upset, Duke gets the win on the road and continues their undefeated start to conference play.
Prediction: Duke 76, Clemson 70