College Basketball Betting: Duke at North Carolina

College Basketball Betting: Duke at North Carolina

It should come as no surprise that the first time Duke and North Carolina clashed on February 18th it ended up being one of the best games of the season, won in overtime by the Blue Devils 92-90. After all, when it comes to college rivalries, few if any compare to Duke-North Carolina. The first matchup saw both teams squander double-digit leads, but Duke proved to be the stronger team in front of its rabid home crowd. Even though the rematch will have zero bearing on the ACC regular season crown, which belongs to Virginia, neither Duke or UNC have any desire to lose to their Tobacco Road enemy. The Devils are riding a 10-game streak, while the Tar Heels are limping to the finish with a 4-5 record in their last nine. Get ready for another intense heavyweight bout between two of the country’s top programs. Here’s a preview and prediction.


The Blue Devils boast arguably the nation’s most talented starting five, three of whom are potential one-and-done freshman. Center Jahlil Okafor remains the frontrunner to seize Player of the Year honors, but it’s been the production from Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones that have vaulted Duke into legitimate Final Four contenders. After a sputtering start to the season, Winslow has racked double-digit points in 11 straight games to go along with four double-doubles. Jones has been equally good, averaging 7.7 assists in his last eight starts. Not to be outdone, lone senior Quinn Cook is one of the country’s most lethal three-point snipers, especially in the clutch. Coach K has no depth, so injuries and fatigue are concerns that must be addressed. That said, set aside a pair of puzzling defeats to Miami and N.C. State in mid January, and Duke’s only loss was at South Bend to a quality Notre Dame team. They are prone to periods of sloppiness but once they get rolling, they are tough to stop.

The Tar Heels have excellent size and one of the top all-around guards in the country in junior Marcus Paige. And yet they remain a bit of an enigma due to a porous defense and a dearth of reliable three-point shooters other than Paige. The trio of Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson, and J.P. Tokoto give them a solid edge on the glass, but all three struggle from the free-throw line. Getting freshman swingman Justin Jackson off to a fast start will be a key factor; he was invisible in the first meeting, scoring just 2 points on 1-8 from he field. Challenging Duke’s perimeter players and forcing turnovers have to be priorities for Roy Williams. Allowing open looks frees up Okafor and Winslow to do major damage on the low blocks. Paige also has to be sharper and more aggressive after totaling 5 points and 3 assists in the defeat at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Devils are 16-13-1 ATS overall and 5-6 ATS on the road. The Heels are 16-12-1 ATS overall and 7-8-1 ATS at home. They have split that last four at the Dean Smith Center. Duke is clearly the better team, but UNC is eager for some payback.

Bet UNC -1