North Carolina vs. Duke NCAAB Preview
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium – Durham, NC
When: Thursday, February 9, 2017, 8:00 PM ET
TV Broadcast: ESPN
Writer’s Pick: North Carolina Tar Heels (+2.5)
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Betting on the North Carolina Tar Heels (21-4, 9-2 ACC)
After making life much harder for themselves against bottom-placed team Pittsburgh in an 80-78 win, the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels had a slightly more convincing 83-76 win over the No. 20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. It was a balanced effort from the Tar Heels, who had six players with 11-16 points.
Justin Jackson led the way with 16 points, which was actually his lowest output since UNC’s loss to Georgia Tech in their conference opener. Jackson has been the picture of consistency, averaging 20 points per game during conference play.
However, UNC as a team has been less impressive away from home, particularly during ACC play. Both of their losses in conference have come away from Chapel Hill, and are also a disappointing 1-4 against the spread in those five conference road games.
But the Tar Heels always seem to get up for their trips to their bitter rivals’ house. UNC is just 2-5 since 2010 in Durham, but are 5-2 against the spread in those games. Those rivalry games are always closely contested affairs, which is why North Carolina is an impressive 14-4 against the spread at Duke since 2001.
Betting on the Duke Blue Devils (18-5, 6-4 ACC)
Duke welcomed the return of head coach Mike Krzyzewski to the bench with a 72-62 home win over Pitt. Coach K, who had missed the last seven games after undergoing back surgery, saw Grayson Allen go off for 21 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists to lead the No. 18-ranked Blue Devils to their third straight win. Allen has been instrumental in that win streak, as he’s averaging 20.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Meanwhile, senior big man Amile Jefferson had 15 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks against Pitt, by far his best performance since returning from a two-game absence. With the Blue Devils still getting nothing from highly-touted freshman Harry Giles, having Jefferson back to full strength will be huge, especially against a North Carolina team that’s the best rebounding team in the country.
Apart from Allen and Jefferson, Duke could also use big games from sophomore Luke Kennard and freshman Jayson Tatum. Kennard went off for 34 points and 6 3-pointers against Wake Forest, but has cooled off since. Meanwhile, Tatum got his first career college double-double with 19 points and 14 boards in their 84-74 win over Notre Dame.
Allen had 29 points in a losing effort in last year’s matchup against UNC in Cameron Indoor, while Kennard had 20 points off the bench.
Duke is 11-1 in 12 true home games this season, and 5-6 against the spread.
UNC (+2.5) has too much depth down low, dominates inside, and steals another win at Cameron Indoor.
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