Do the North Carolina Tar Heels have what it takes to get some revenge over the Duke Blue Devils? That would appear to be the case. They were beaten just a few weeks ago, and were swept last season, and so they are out there looking for an opportunity for payback as they take to the floor at 6:30 PM ET at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC.
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Duke is not a deep team – essentially down to six players after losing Amile Jefferson to an injury – and they also lost Matt Jones to a sprained ankle in the first half of their February 17 game against the Tar Heels, leaving them with five players for almost the entire second half. And UNC scored only 27 points in that second half, so despite 29 points and 19 rebounds from Brice Johnson, they went down to a 74-73 defeat. North Carolina’s backcourt was errant, to say the least. Joel Berry and Marcus Paige combined to shoot just 4-for-22 from the field.
In the ACC basketball odds that have been established on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Heels are laying points on the road:
Lack of depth can hurt a team come tournament time, and so can the inability to put the clamp on opponents. Duke has permitted 50% shooting in three of its last four games, and this is something that hasn’t been all that unusual. In fact, during ACC play, no less than six times has an opponent made at least half its shots from the floor.
BetAnySports patrons know that North Carolina has not been the kind of team to beat itself a heck of a lot with mistakes, and they are great at moving the ball around, registering 18.4 assists per game (fifth best in the nation). That can take its toll on a so-so defensive team that doesn’t have a lot of depth.
The matchup that can give Duke fits here involves whoever is going to have to corral Johnson, who averages 16.9 points and 10.4 rebounds. Remember that Duke won’t have the availability of Jefferson. Grabbing the points with Duke in that contest may have been the smart thing going in, but the Tar Heels would appear to have an awful lot of incentive here, as they would like to secure at least a #2 seed when the Big Dance pairings are made. They are 24-6 straight-up and 11-18-1 ATS and ranked #8 in both of the major polls. Duke (22-8 SU, 13-14 ATS) is #17 with the Associated Press and #21 in the coaches’ poll.
In terms of technical trends, the Heels, who at one point in the season had a string of nine “overs” in a row, have played seven of their last nine games under the total. Duke’s totals string is even more pronounced; the Blue Devils have played seven straight unders.
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