Duke has been the victim of some big first-round upsets in the NCAA tournament this decade. Could the ultra-talented No. 2 Blue Devils actually fall to No. 15 Iona in first-round Midwest action on Thursday afternoon? MyBookie oddsmakers surely don’t think so. Here’s the March Madness betting odds for this matchup.
Duke vs. Iona 2018 March Madness Betting Odds & First Round PredictionWhen: Thursday, 2:45 PM ET Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh TV: CBS Radio: Blue Devils IMG Sports Network (Duke) / Iona Sports Network (Iona) Opening March Madness Betting Odds: Duke -19.5
Why Bet on Iona?The Gaels (20-13) were fourth in the MAAC regular-season standings but beat Fairfield 83-71 for the tournament title. Roland Griffin and Zach Lewis, transfers playing their first seasons with the Gaels, combined to score 49 points and Iona captured the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament title for the third straight time. Griffin had a career-high 29 points, four blocks, and made all 11 free throws he attempted. Lewis, a graduate transfer from Canisius, was named tournament MVP after scoring 20 points and nabbing a game-high four steals. Iona’s path to its sixth straight MAAC championship game was made easier when the top three top seeds — Rider, Canisius, and Niagara — were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Five players average double figures, including Griffin (10.9 ppg) and Deyshonee Much (10.8 ppg) off the bench. Much (40.4%) and Shadrac Casimir (46.3%) are accurate from three, a strength for the Gaels (31st nationally in threes made a game, 9.7; 32nd in percentage, 38.8%). The Gaels play at a top-50 tempo offensively, convert 38.8 percent of their 3-pointers (34th) and rank 59th in effective field goal percentage. Iona uses its ability to steal the basketball (18th nationally) to get out in transition and score against unset defenses.
How is the Offense Looking Like?With their up-tempo style of play, the Gaels don’t attack the glass very well and can be susceptible to offensive rebounds and second-chance points. Iona ranks just 267th in defensive rebounding percentage (30.8) and was seventh in the 10-team MAAC in rebounding. On the other end of the floor, they don’t create many second-chance points for themselves either, ranking an even worse 304th in offensive rebounding percentage. Tim Cluess is in his eighth season as head coach of Iona. During his time there, he has won three regular season titles and four MAAC tournament titles (2013, 2016-18). He was MAAC coach of the year in 2014. In 13 NCAA tournament appearances, Iona is 1-12. Its lone win was in 1980, an 84–78 win over Holy Cross in the tournament’s first round. Former N.C. State coach Jim Valvano was the head coach of Iona at the time.
Why Bet on Duke?What else is there to say? Duke is the most talented team in the country full of future NBA players. Freshman Marvin Bagley III will be a Top-5 pick in the 2018 draft. He was named ACC Player and Freshman of the Year and a finalist for the Naismith Trophy, which is presented annually to the player of the year in men’s college basketball. In the history of the award, only two freshmen have won it — Kevin Durant (Texas) in 2007 and Anthony Davis (Kentucky) in 2012. Bagley was just the second player ever in the ACC’s 65-year history to sweep the conference for top individual awards in the same season. He leads the ACC in scoring and rebounding and is one of only two players in the country averaging better than 20.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg and shooting better than .600 from the field. Bagley enters with NCAA Tournament with 21 double-doubles, 10 of which came in conference play, and scored in double figures in 28 of the 29 games he has played.
Which Team Has Been the One to Score Big vs. Duke?The only team to score 70 against the Blue Devils since they went full-time to zone defense is North Carolina. Over its past nine games (since Feb. 11), Duke has allowed 90.3 points per 100 possessions, the fifth-best defensive efficiency in Division I. In that span, Duke has played zone defense 93 percent of the time, compared to 29 percent earlier in the season. No freshman in ACC history has averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds over an entire season. At 21.1 PPG, Bagley is on pace to set the Duke single-season freshman scoring record currently held by Jabari Parker (19.1 PPG in 2013-14). The Blue Devils and Michigan State are the only programs in the country to be ranked in the top 10 nationally in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency. It is the 23rd consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance for Duke and its 34th overall under head coach Mike Krzyzewski – no coach has more. Duke has never faced Iona in men’s basketball and owns a 13-3 overall record against teams that currently comprise the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). The Blue Devils are 108-36 (.750) all-time in the NCAA Tournament, marking the best winning percentage in tournament history. Duke’s 108 wins are also third-most in the event’s history and Coach K holds the NCAA record with 91 NCAA Tournament wins. The Blue Devils are 13-5 (.722) as a participant in the Midwest Region and 27-10 (.743) as a No. 2 seed.
Latest March Madness Betting Trends
- Iona is 4-1 SU in thelast 5 games
- Iona is 0-5 ATS in the last 5 NCAA Tournament games.
- The total went OVER in 6 of Iona’s last 8 games
- Duke is 7-2 ATS in the last 9 games
- Duke is 7-2 SU in the last 9 games
- The total went UNDER in 7 of Duke’s last 8 games