The stakes for a North Carolina vs. Duke rivalry game are always big. But this regular season finale edition on Saturday, March 5 will have an added incentive: if No. 8 UNC wins, it’s guaranteed at least a share of the ACC regular season title. But surely, the No. 17 Blue Devils aren’t going to let their hated rivals celebrate in Cameron Indoor without a fight.
Get a full breakdown on the latest installment of this epic NCAA college basketball rivalry with our preview below. Meanwhile, check out our previews the other games that will have ACC title implications: Louisville vs. Virginia and Miami (FL) vs. Virginia Tech.
March Madness News & Predictions
- 2016 March Madness Sleepers Predictions and Picks
- 2016 March Madness Longshots and Best Long Shots Picks and Predictions
- 2016 March Madness Preview
- 2016 NCAA March Madness Expert Picks
North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Duke Blue Devils Preview
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham
When: Saturday, March 5, 6:30 PM ET
Line: North Carolina Tar Heels at Duke Blue Devils – view all NCAA Basketball lines
TV Broadcast: ESPN
Betting on the North Carolina Tar Heels (24-6, 13-4 ACC)
North Carolina really wishes it had its first game against Duke back. Led by Brice Johnson’s 29 points and 19 rebounds, the Tar Heels simply dominated Duke in the paint and on the glass. Duke was reduced to just six rotation players after Matt Jones sprained his ankle. But bad execution by UNC down the stretch saw Duke steal the game, 74-73.
With Duke’s Amile Jefferson still out injured, there’s no reason to think the Tar Heels won’t continue their dominance against an undersized Duke team inside.
Senior Marcus Paige’s prolonged shooting slump is still worrisome for UNC, though. He went 2-of-10 against Duke, and has scored just 19 total points on 6-of-23 (26 percent) shooting in his last two games against No. 3 Virginia and Syracuse.
With Paige struggling, Joel Berry II must continue to step up. The sophomore, who went just 2-of-12 against Duke, has gone 12-of-23 over his last two games, and scored a team-high 21 points in UNC’s 79-74 loss at Virginia.
Of North Carolina’s four conference losses, three have come on the road. The Tar Heels are also just 3-5 ATS in eight conference road games, but are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 road games at Cameron Indoor.
Create a betting account now and cash in on all the top NCAA college hoops action.
Betting on the Duke Blue Devils (22-8, 11-6 ACC)
Duke followed that amazing come-from-behind road win at Chapel Hill with back-to-back road losses at Louisville and Pitt.
While the Blue Devils’ loss at Louisville was understandable – they were coming off an emotionally draining win at UNC and were without Matt Jones – their 14-point loss at Pitt was particularly shocking. Their highly efficient offense – No. 4 in the country per KenPom – was limited to just 37.5 percent from the field.
The Blue Devils have been a much better bet at home, though. After losing back-to-back games at Cameron Indoor against Notre Dame and Syracuse, they’ve gone 5-0 in their last five at home, which includes big wins over No. 13 Louisville and No. 7 Virginia.
They also took care of Wake Forest, 79-71, in their latest outing on Tuesday. Grayson Allen scored 30 points – the most he’s scored in conference play – while Matt Jones added 14 on 4-of-6 shooting from three.
Allen has been on fire since Feb. 1. He’s averaging 23.4 PPG during that stretch, third-most out of all major conference players. Meanwhile, just the added presence of Jones and his shooting ability will be a big boost for the Blue Devils after the junior missed majority of the first game against UNC.
Since 2010, Duke has gone 5-1 at Cameron Indoor and 11-3 overall against its bitter rivals.
Duke completes the sweep of UNC with a 79-74 win.