The ACC is awfully competitive these days—with four ranked teams in the conference, the Duke Blue Devils have to settle with being fourth in the standings behind No. 1 Syracuse, No. 17 Virginia and No. 25 Pittsburgh. Duke will have the opportunity to prove itself on the national stage Wednesday night when the team heads to the Dean E. Smith Center to face its biggest rival, the North Carolina Tar Heels. The matchup will be the first of two meetings over the next month as the Blue Devils will close out the regular season at home against the Tar Heels.
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North Carolina began conference play on a sour note, losing four of its first five matchups, but has since managed to win five straight games to bring its ACC record to a decent 6-4. The Tar Heels have a tough two-game set coming up when they host Duke and Pittsburgh this week and could turn their entire season around with back-to-back upsets over two of the nation’s best squads. Let’s take a closer look at Wednesday’s matchup with predictions and analysis.
Duke at North Carolina Betting Story Lines
Duke may not be leading the ACC, but the team is in the middle of a solid stretch of basketball that has Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad peaking at the right time. Duke has won seven of its last eight matchups, and its lone defeat in that span was an encouraging two-point overtime loss to the No.1 Syracuse Orange to open up the month of February. The Blue Devils are a young team, and they were probably never meant to tear up the standings early in the year, but Krzyzewski believes his group is talented enough to play for a national title come March.
Duke is an impressive 16-8 ATS and is on a massive seven-game ATS winning streak. The squad has covered three double-digit spreads in that span and is coming off a 19-point win over Boston College in its last outing. Jabari Parker continues to be the driving force behind the Blue Devils powerhouse offense that averages 82 points per game to go along with 16 assists and a .475 shooting percentage from the field. Duke has one more matchup against Syracuse later in the month and will look to head into ACC tournament play with a big win over one of the best teams in the nation.
North Carolina seems to be peaking at the right time after struggling early in conference play. The squad has won five straight games, but more importantly they covered each of those matchups by a comfortable margin. The Tar Heels are coming off an 11-point win over Notre Dame after trailing by nine points early in the first half. Forward James Michael McAdoo led North Carolina with a stellar stat line of 18 points, eight rebounds and two assists, while guard Marcus Paige added 16 points and six rebounds during the win.
North Carolina is one of the top rebounding teams in the nation, averaging 41.1 boards per game to go along with the 15.7 assists the team dishes out on a nightly basis. The squad loves pounding the ball into the paint and letting its offense build from the inside out. McAdoo leads the team with an average of 6.8 rebounds, but the Tar Heels also have four other players that crash the boards and average over five rebounds per game.
Duke at North Carolina NCAA Betting Odds and Key Trends
Duke opened as a 1.5-point favorite over the underdog Tar Heels at BetOnline. Duke is 6-0 ATS in its recent matchups following a SU win and an ATS win. The squad is 4-0 ATS over its last four road games and 7-0 ATS in its last seven overall matchups. Duke is also 7-0 ATS in its last seven games against the ACC and has won six straight against teams with winning records.
North Carolina is 4-0 ATS in its last four games following a SU win and 5-0 ATS in its last five overall matchups. The team is 5-0 ATS in its recent matchups against the ACC and 8-3 ATS over its last 11 Wednesday games. Head-to-head, Duke is 6-1 ATS over the last seven meetings in North Carolina, while the road team is 22-8 ATS during the last 30 overall games.
Free College Basketball Picks: Duke at North Carolina Predictions
Wednesday night’s rivalry-week matchup between Duke and North Carolina promises to be an exciting game between two of the nation’s marquee programs. Duke has more at stake heading into the game but has been a mediocre team on the road this season, posting a 3-3 record away from home and a 3-2 record at neutral-site games. North Carolina, on the other hand, has been excellent at home with 11-3 SU record and should be able to keep this matchup close if not win it straight out. Both teams are entering the game riding a wave of momentum, but North Carolina is the better rebounding team, which should pay dividends throughout the night. Expect the Tar Heels winning streak to continue, and take the team at home plus the 1.5 points.
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Read more articles by George Monroy