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NCAA Basketball Betting – Duke Blue Devils vs. UNC Tar Heels
Our Sportsbooks: Duke Blue Devils (19-1) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (21-1)
Wednesday, February 6th — Dean Smith Center, Charlotte — 9:00pm EST
NCAAB Betting Line: UNC -4 (163)
The storied rivalry between Duke and UNC will turn another page tonight and everyone’s TiVO should already be set for a memorable battle tonight. Unlike last year, this showdown will be a huge testament to which team is ready for March Madness to challenge for the Championship. Duke has come a long way since their disastrous season last year, while UNC continues to make headlines as the nation’s best team. Which team will get the bounces to pull off a victory in this throwdown?
Duke is 3-2 ATS on the road this year, which has to get the UNC betting faithful more than excited. Tickling their fancies even more is the fact that UNC is 9-1 ATS at home this season. Deflating the fact that Duke is 16-6 SU in their past 22 contests with their heated rival is the fact that UNC is 4-1 ATS in their last five home games against the Blue Devils. Things certainly look to tip in the favor of the Tar Heels so far.
But then the news that point-guard Ty Lawson probably won’t be good to go for tonight’s match up came down the pipe line. Lawson averages 13.6 points per game, with 5.7 assists and 1.9 steals while steering an efficiently dangerous Tar Heels offense. This can’t be music to coach Roy Williams’ ears. Quentin Thomas, a career reserve for the Tar Heels, will get the start against Duke and the senior should be ready to handle the pressure. Whether he displays that on the floor is another question.
Duke is third nationally in scoring with 85.7 points per game, trailing second-ranked UNC which has 91.0 points on average. Defensively, Duke gets the nod with 66.0 points against UNC’s 71.8 points against. But the rebounding battle is easily Tyler Hansbrough and the Tar Heels. They outmuscle Duke on the boards by an average of 7.7 boards per game. Hansbrough averages 21.8 points and 10.4 rebounds and will be called upon to lead this offense against its most hated rival. Hansbrough, in a word, is a haus and will be as amped as anyone on the Tar Heels roster for a great game. Whether Thomas can distribute the ball to him is another question.
The Blue Devils play with speed, while compromising a good amount of size in their front court. It has worked thus far, but Lance Thomas is their largest physical asset at he only stands at 6-foot-8 and 220 bounds. Hansbrough, Deon Thompson and Alex Stephenson are all bigger. Bet on the Tar Heels to slow the game down to make life easier for Thomas, while their big bangers put Duke in foul trouble and muscle their way to the basket in an effort to wear them down on defense.
That will effectively slow down Duke’s offense at least partially. But there is no way that Duke gets hammered in this game. A four-point margin for UNC is manageable, but Duke will be shooting the lights out from the perimeter in the fourth in an effort to catch up They shoot 48.5 percent from the field and nail 9.0 three-pointers per game. That could be a dangerous stat if the Devils are forced to start hucking the ball from a distance while UNC controls the game down low.
Still, I like UNC with any margin under five points. UNC has won their past four games ATS when playing Duke by an average margin of 7.75 points win or loss. That is skewed by the 86-72 throttling last year as Duke could barely hold itself above water. Bet on a close game, but take UNC with any spread under five points.
NCAA Basketball Free Pick: UNC (UNDER)
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