What better way to conclude the final weekend of college basketball’s regular season than with the best rivalry in the sport: No. 3 Duke and No. 19 North Carolina, who always close the regular season against one another. The Tar Heels are moderately surprising 1.5-point favorites on NCAA basketball odds.
North Carolina vs Duke College Hoops Lines Game InfoTime: Saturday, 9 p.m. ETVenue: Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.National TV: ESPNOpening line: UNC -1.5
Tar Heels vs Blue Devils Analysis and Game PreviewFrom simply an ACC perspective, Duke (27-3, 14-3) has nothing to play for because the Blue Devils are locked into a second-place finish and will be the No. 2 seed in next week’s ACC Tournament behind Virginia. However, a loss Saturday could hamper Duke’s chances of getting a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. Pretty much every projection has Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s club as a No. 1 right now in the South Region. The Blue Devils have three very heralded freshmen in Jahlil Okafor, the likely ACC Player of the Year, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones. Yet it was a fourth less-heralded freshman who led the team with a career-high 27 points from reserve Grayson Allen in Wednesday’s 94-51 destruction of Wake Forest in the Devils’ home finale. It was Duke’s 10th straight win, and I’ll admit I thought the Dukies might struggle a bit perhaps looking ahead to this rivalry game. Yet Duke’s 37-point halftime lead tied for the ninth-largest halftime margin in school history. Okafor struggled with early foul trouble and had his worst game with just six points and four rebounds. But Duke scored 80 or more points for the 14th time this season and ranks fourth nationally in scoring at 81.2 points per game. It shot 57.9 percent from the field (34-for-59) and 52.0 percent (13-for-25) from beyond the arc.North Carolina (21-9, 11-6) does have motivation here other than simply beating its rival. Should the Tar Heels win and Louisville lose at home to No. 2 Virginia, then the Heels would be the No. 4 seed in the ACC Tournament. That’s important because the Top 4 seeds all earn double-byes. UNC has won two straight and it thumped Georgia Tech 81-49 in Atlanta on Tuesday, the Heels’ biggest margin of victory ever at Georgia Tech. Freshman Joel Berry II led UNC with 15 points off the bench. The team also saw the return of freshman swingman Theo Pinson, who had missed 10 straight games with a broken bone in his left foot. He adds depth and solid defense. Heels star Marcus Paige joined some exclusive company when with 5:30 left in the game when he hit a 3-pointer. It was the 200th of his career. Only five other UNC players have at least 200: Shammond Williams (school-record 233), Wayne Ellington, Rashad McCants, Donald Williams and Jeff Lebo.On Feb. 18 at Duke, the Blue Devils won a 92-90 OT thriller over Carolina. The Blue Devils trailed by 10 with less than four minutes left. Jones scored nine straight points for Duke, and his layup with 27.5 seconds left tied it at 81. He finished with 22 points, while Okafor had 12 points and 13 rebounds in Duke’s ninth win in the past 12 in this series. Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson each scored 18 points to lead North Carolina.
UNC vs Duke Key Betting Trends
- North Carolina is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games
- North Carolina is 5-9-1 ATS in its last 15 games
- North Carolina is 14-6 SU in its last 20 games
- The total has gone OVER in 8 of North Carolina’s last 11 games
- Duke is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Duke’s last 5 games