The Duke Blue Devils need to make a bit of a statement on Thursday night.
Duke has been perceived as the class of a very average ACC all season, yet it sits in second place in the league standings after its Monday loss to Virginia and wins elsewhere across the conference on Wednesday.
Duke sits in an ideal position to bounce back in a major way on Thursday against an average Clemson side. The Tigers pushed Duke to the brink in their first regular-season meeting, but they have not played well since the meeting in Durham.
The Blue Devils have the better talent and they will be under the spotlight on a Thursday slate that is dominated mostly by mid-major contests.
Thursday CBB Picks
Overall Record: 178-198-2
William and Mary at Towson (-16.5) (5 p.m. ET)
Towson beat William and Mary by 22 points in their first meeting back on January 17.
Towson sits over 200 spots ahead of the Tribe in the KenPom overall rankings, and oh by the way, William and Mary lost their last two games by 20+ points.
William and Mary ranks 348th in two-point defense and 347th in adjusted efficiency, and to be honest, the team just isn't that good.
Georgia State at Coastal Carolina (+112) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Coastal Carolina should beat Georgia State with its defense.
The Chanticleers rank 13th in three-point defense and 26th in effective field-goal percentage on defense.
Coastal beat Georgia State outright as a five-point underdog in their first meeting and the visiting Panthers are offensively challenged in some spots. Georgia State ranks 340th in effective field-goal percentage and 351st in two-point percentage.
Old Dominion at Middle Tennessee (-5.5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Middle Tennessee scored over 80 points in its three wins over the last four games.
Old Dominion scored 122 total points in its last two losses against Florida Atlantic and Western Kentucky.
MTSU averages close to nine points per game more than the Monarchs and that should provide enough of an edge to come out with a six-point win or more on Thursday night.
Elon at James Madison (Over 142.5) (7 p.m. ET)
James Madison is 8-2 to the over in its last 10 games.
The Dukes conceded at least 70 points to each of their last five opponents and they allowed 80 points in three losses during that span.
Elon scored a season best of 90 points in its first meeting with JMU on January 17. Both teams give up over 72 points per game and that is yet another factor playing in favor of the over.
UIC at Cleveland State (-9.5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Cleveland State covered in its last two games when it was a double-digit favorite.
The Vikings scored over 80 points at home against Milwaukee and Green Bay, who reside in the bottom half of the Horizon League standings along with UIC.
UIC may have a hard time keeping pace with the Vikings. Cleveland State ranks 19th in two-point offense and UIC sits 289th in two-point defense.
Duke (-6.5) at Clemson (8 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
I'm buying the bounce-back narrative for Duke.
The Blue Devils just lost to Virginia at home on Monday and they did not play well against Clemson inside Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 25.
Duke needs a strong performance to get back on track in a crowded ACC regular-season title race. Clemson has been average at best and it is trending in the wrong direction with back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina.
Morehead State (+10) at Belmont (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Morehead State-Belmont is probably the best game you don't know about on the Thursday schedule.
Morehead State beat Belmont by nine points on January 20. The Eagles and Bruins are in the mix with Murray State for first place in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Belmont should win the rematch inside its home gym, but the number is a bit high in its favor given how strong Morehead State has played this season.
Both teams rank in the top 50 in effective field-goal percentage and the 40th-ranked Morehead three-point offense should keep the Eagles within 10 points for most of the contest.