Duke is 1–0 in 2018-19, matching to the Cavs' win total through 11 games.
ESPN NBA analyst Paul Pierce declared the Cavaliers the worst team in the NBA on Thursday and took his criticism a step further when he claimed Cleveland would lose to Duke in an exhibition contest.
The Blue Devils did match the Cavs' 2018-19 win total with their first victory of the year on Tuesday, which was a 118-84 demolition of No. 2 Kentucky. But the oddsmakers in Las Vegas aren't so sure Duke could hold its own even against the worst team in the NBA.
Jeff Sherman, the vice president or risk management at Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, set the Cavaliers as 22.5-point favorites over the Blue Devils in a potential interleague battle.
The double-digit line isn't the first sizable spread provided by Sherman for a hypothetical matchup this week, as he deemed the Bills to be 28.5-point favorites over Alabama in a gridiron battle.
Could Duke hang with the Cavaliers on the hardwood? Cleveland would provide the best chance of a collegiate cover and have the NBA's worst defensive rating alongside its 1–10 record. With Kevin Love nursing an injured toe, the Cavaliers don't have a single former All-Star on its roster.
As for Duke, the Blue Devils are as well equipped as any NCAA squad to take down an NBA franchise. Duke has each of the top three prospects in SI's 2019 NBA draft big board and four of the top 60 players. Expect to see at least three former Blue Devils selected at the top of June's draft.
Cleveland's experience would likely topple Duke's trio of elite freshmen, avoiding embarrassment in a hypothetical matchup. Yet it's hard to envision the Blue Devils getting blown out by the NBA's worst squad, especially with Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski at the helm.