The Duke Blue Devils take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Check out our college basketball odds series for our Duke Wake Forest prediction and pick.

Duke is going to be without two starters for this game. Just hours before tipoff, it was announced the Dereck Lively and Dariq Whitehead will miss this game. Coach Jon Scheyer will have to go into his bench and adjust his rotation. It’s certainly a plot point to monitor heading into this game.

On the other hand, Wake Forest guard Tyree Appleby — the transfer from Florida who is absolutely essential to the Demon Deacons’ chances of doing anything of note this season — got injured in a recent game against Appalachian State. He was able to play this past weekend versus Rutgers, but he was not particularly effective in a blowout loss. His condition and his overall effectiveness will need to be monitored in this game against Duke, an ACC clash just before Christmas.

Duke had its share of struggles earlier in the season, losing to Kansas and Purdue and having its share of wobbly moments. The Blue Devils have gotten better as the season has moved along. They handled two Big Ten teams which are expected to make the NCAA Tournament, Ohio State and Iowa. It is a real change for Duke to operate without Mike Krzyzewski’s presence on the bench and in timeout huddles. Scheyer is learning about his players, and his players are learning about him.

Wake Forest barely missed the NCAA Tournament last season under coach Steve Forbes. The new version of the Demon Deacons has been all over the place this season. Sometimes the team looks great, other times it looks like a complete mess. The Demon Deacons blew a large lead against LSU and nearly lost to App State but won on a buzzer-beater. Then they got hammered by Rutgers. Wake Forest needs to find more toughness and consistency at both ends of the floor, or else this team will be an NIT team.

Courtesy of FanDuel, here are the Duke-Wake Forest College Basketball odds.

College Basketball Odds: Duke-Wake Forest Odds

Duke Blue Devils: -7.5 (-104)

Wake Forest Demon Deacons: +7.5 (-118)

Over: 141.5 (-110)

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Under: 141.5 (-110)

Why Duke Could Cover the Spread

This is a Duke team which has shown it can adjust and adapt. Not having two starters in the lineup for this game could derail a lot of teams, but you have seen Duke make adjustments in recent weeks after getting crushed by Purdue in Portland in late November. This has become a more resilient and defense-first team. That change in Duke’s identity over the past few weeks will really matter here against Wake Forest.

The other thing which needs to be said is that Wake Forest looks like a lost team. Tyree Appleby is so central to what the Demon Deacons try to do, and he was plainly ineffective coming off his injury this past weekend when the Deacs were throttled by Rutgers. Maybe he will play better, but Appleby is part of a Wake Forest team which just can’t put together complete games. Wake might play well for 20 minutes, but the other 20 minutes are a disaster, and that kind of tendency catches up with teams. It’s likely to catch up with Wake against Duke.

Why Wake Forest Could Cover the Spread

Duke not having two core members of its rotation is a significant blow to the Blue Devils. Part of Duke’s resurgence lies in the reality that its main lineup is working better, communicating better on defense, and showing more cohesion. Losing not one, but two, parts of that team unit — especially at the defensive end of the floor — will disrupt cohesion and will force Jon Scheyer to put new combinations of players on the floor. Duke’s learning curve will slow down instead of accelerating. The Blue Devils might have to take one step back before they take two steps forward.

Wake Forest will also be very angry after the no-show at Rutgers. The Deacs know how big this game is. They’re at home. They’re going to play a far better game than what we’ve seen in recent weeks from Steve Forbes’ team.

Final Duke-Wake Forest Prediction & Pick

This is a game you should stay away from, but the two Duke injuries are hard to ignore here. Don’t make a pregame bet, but maybe there’s a live-game play to make based on what you see from Duke’s new lineup.

Final Duke-Wake Forest Prediction & Pick: Wake Forest +7.5