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Duke Blue Devils vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

#4 Duke Blue Devils (26-4) @ #3 North Carolina Tar Heels (25-5)

NCAA BB: Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 6:00 pm ET (Dean Smith Center)

Line: North Carolina -3

Free NCAA BB Spread Pick North Carolina Tar Heels Vs. Duke Blue Devils

It’s round 2 of the greatest rivalry on Earth. North Carolina thumped Duke 88-72 in round 1 at Cameron Indoor. Can the Blue Devils flip the script in Chapel Hill Saturday?

North Carolina

Since a 21-point home loss to Louisville January 12th, North Carolina has been white hot. They’ve gone 13-1 with the only loss being to Virginia. Top bracketologist Dave Ommen has the Tar Heels as a #2 seed right now in his most recent bracket release. It would be hard to leave North Carolina off the #1 line in the next bracket update if they sweep Duke in the regular season Saturday evening.

Coach Roy Williams experienced a scary vertigo episode during North Carolina’s win over Clemson last Saturday. Williams has battled the condition for years. This isn’t the first time a mid-game episode has caused the hall-of-famer to leave prematurely. Don’t be alarmed. Williams is fully expected to be on the sidelines for the matchup with Duke.

Duke

Duke will be without star freshman Zion Williamson again on Saturday. Williamson suffered a knee sprain when his left Nike shoe exploded at the top of the key in the first minute of the game the last time Duke and North Carolina met.

The Blue Devils’ level of play has been a roller coaster during Zion’s absence. They were blown out by the Tar Heels at home, beat Syracuse by 10 on the road, lost to Virginia Tech on the road, pummeled Miami by 30 at home, and then barely snuck by an awful Wake Forest team by one point at home.

Free NCAA BB Spread Pick Duke Blue Devils Vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

North Carolina smashed Duke at Cameron Indoor, so they should handle them easily in Chapel Hill, especially considering Zion isn’t playing, right? I disagree. My philosophy for picking any North Carolina/Duke basketball spread is to always take the underdog. I’ll explain.

Vegas sets the line according to the relative strength of the teams while taking into account home court advantage, injuries, etc. In a game between such bitter rivals, I don’t think those factors matter as much as they do in another random game. Both teams are laser-focused because it’s the most important game of the year to that point. There’s no “Duke is playing on 2 days’ rest,” or “UNC is coming off an emotional win at Blue Dolphin State.” Every single player on both of these two teams are 100% dialed in for the biggest rivalry in all of sports. Not completely, but to a large extent, you can throw out the home court advantage, the injuries, and the relative strength of the teams. In my opinion, the level of competition in this rivalry is better than any other on the planet. Expect a very competitive game which could go either way. Take the underdog.

Pick: Duke +3

Dana Roller
I'm a sports nut and a numbers guy who likes to write.
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