North Carolina Tar Heels vs Duke Blue Devils Betting Preview

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One of the best rivalries in all of the sports adds a historic chapter. The Tobacco Road rivalry between the North Carolina Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils takes on the NCAA Tournament for the first time, and in the Final Four, no less.

Additional storylines include it potentially being Hall-of-Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final game as he’s retiring at the season’s end for Duke (32-6). During his farewell ceremony in his final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Tar Heels (28-9) beat them 94-81 in a game they once had a 20-point lead. Duke won the first meeting 87-67 earlier in the season.

The line opened Duke -5 with an over/under of 149.5, which has since moved to Duke -3.5 with an over/under of 151.5 as of this writing.

Duke Blue Devils Betting Preview: Defend to win

In a game where both teams are offensively talented, Duke needs to prove it is the better defensive team and be committed on that end.

The Blue Devils are 85th in the country, allowing 66.0 points per game and holding teams to 41.3% (65th nationally) shooting from the field and 30.2% on 3-pointers, which is 37th nationally. Duke is also 22nd in the country in rebounding, pulling in 35.9 per contest.

There has been zero drop-off from the regular season to the postseason for likely NBA lottery pick Paolo Banchero. He’s averaging 17.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game during seven tournament games. Wendell Moore Jr. and Mark Williams haven’t had a drop-off, either. Jeremy Roach has been very good as well.

North Carolina Tar Heels Betting Preview: Locked in offensively

North Carolina has been strong offensively down the stretch. The Tar Heels have the 28th best offensive nationally, scoring 78.6 points per game.

They convert 45.8% from the field, 84th nationally, 37.4% from 3-point ranges (31st nationally), and 77% from the free-throw line (20th nationally). Like their rivals, North Carolina is 14th in rebounding at 36.9 per contest.

A tight rotation has really turned it on for first-year coach Hubert Davis. Brady Manek particularly is scoring 19.5 points per game across six games, up to six from his regular-season average.

Armando Bacot is one of the top players in the game, averaging 15.8 points, 14.7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game during six tournament games. Guards Caleb Love and RJ Davis are also scoring in double figures.

Betting Prediction

North Carolina is 20-16-1 against the spread this season and 21-15-1 on over/unders. Since a Feb. 5 loss to the Blue Devils, the Tar Heels are 12-2 straight up and 10-3-1 against the spread. Duke is 20-16-2 against the spread and 21-16-1 on over/unders this season.

The Blue Devils had lost five straight against the spread before winning the last three. It’s cliche to say these are two of the hottest teams when only four are standing.

It’s true for North Carolina, which made a run to make the tournament. For Duke, it is playing on a different level and leaving no doubt in closer games. The pick is the Blue Devils -3.5.

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