St. Louis minus 8 1/2 hosting Duquesne

Handicapping college basketball has never had a pandemic element to it until 2020. Now COVID-19 issues have to be taken into consideration with certain teams. It’s become part of the handicap. 

There’s an Atlantic 10 Conference opener today between Duquesne and St. Louis that is a perfect example of this. Duquesne has been hit hard by COVID. The Dukes have played only two games with the last one coming on Dec. 2. 

Duquesne finally gets to play a game for the first time in four weeks. That’s the good news for the Dukes. The bad news is it comes on the road against a St. Louis team that is riding high and is one of the top scoring teams in the nation. 

The Billikens are the better team and have a great situational advantage. I don’t think the point spread fully reflects that so I’m laying the points with the home team. 

Unlike Duquesne, St. Louis was able to play nearly a full non-conference schedule. The Billikens are 7-1 SU, 6-2 ATS. Their lone loss was to Minnesota, 90-82, in a road game that was closer than the final score indicates. St. Louis averages 83.9 points, 38th-best in the country. The Billikens’ margin of victory is 18.6 points. They have covered seven of their last eight home contests. 

The Dukes just started practicing this past Saturday. Duquesne coach Keigh Dambrot said it’s going to take about two weeks for his team to get up to form. This is what he was quoted as saying, “I haven’t felt we’ve practiced particularly well throughout because we’ve been shut down so many times. I feel like we’re starting over every single time. We figure we’ve been off three different times for 10 days, 14 days. That’s ridiculous … There are parts of the game we’re not going to be very good at.” 

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