NCAA Tournament Elite Eight Day 2 best bets from college basketball expert John Martin: Duke rolls to the Final Four

Duke Blue Devils players (from left to right) center Dereck Lively (1) forward Mark Mitchell (25) guard Jacob Grandison (13) and guard Jeremy Roach (3) huddle during the second half
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John Martin


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NFL handicapper for Pickswise.
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College basketball is weird. It’s random and wacky. Sometimes, a dominant team even goes on an unprecedented 30-0 run to clinch a Final Four appearance. The single-game elimination nature of the tournament makes it unlike most every other format in the world, and that’s why we love it. Dreams are made, hearts are broken and coaches get extended or fall out of favor with their fanbase entirely. That’s the beauty of it! With that said, let’s get to the second half of the Elite 8 with our best bets for Sunday’s action.

It’s likely your bracket hasn’t survived heading into today’s action. But hey, that’s okay! We can still win some bets. Let’s stay hot with our March Madness best bets for the Elite 8, but make sure you also check out our college basketball picks for EVERY game throughout March Madness. 

Duke Blue Devils -6 over NC State Wolfpack (-110)

Odds generally available at the time of publishing.

We are on to the Elite Eight, and thanks to an unfortunate injury to All-American point guard Jamal Shead of the Houston Cougars, so are the Duke Blue Devils. It really is unfortunate that Shead’s season came to an end and we didn’t get to see those two teams at full strength; Shead’s absence was felt immediately, and to their credit, the Blue Devils took advantage. They still had to overcome an incredible coach in Kelvin Sampson and system. That wasn’t a given, and they pulled through.
Waiting for them on the other side is their conference foe, N.C. State. It’s true that in their most recent meeting in the ACC Tournament, the Wolfpack knocked the Blue Devils off 74-69. But I’m totally willing to throw out that performance as a result of the Blue Devils being locked into their seeding and N.C. State absolutely needing to win to make the NCAA Tournament field at all.
In the last regular season meeting, Duke was -6 at N.C. State and won the game comfortably behind a combined 37 points from Jared McCain and Jeremy Roach. That’s basically the way Duke has been winning the entire time, and it’s the formula I expect to continue on Sunday. We’re getting a half-point discount thanks to N.C. State’s miraculous run in the tournament, and I fully intend to take advantage of it. The Blue Devils should reach the Final Four for the first time under Jon Scheyer and cover this number against the Wolfpack.
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