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Duke Favored by 7.5 on the Road at North Carolina; Blue Devils Have Lost Three Straight in Chapel Hill

Vernon Carey Jr. reaction
Vernon Carey Jr. and the Duke Blue Devils are 7.5-point favorites on the road against arch rival North Carolina. Photo from @NBANewsNow (Twitter)
  • #7 Duke is a 7.5-point favorite on the road at North Carolina
  • The Blue Devils have lost three straight in Chapel Hill
  • The Tar Heels are just 2-9 against the spread at home – check our betting prediction below

Chapel Hill will play host to the best rivalry in college basketball on Saturday at 6pm ET, with #7 Duke (19-3, 6-1 Away) making the trip to take on North Carolina (10-12, 5-6 Home). The Tar Heels have struggled mightily this season, but the Duke vs UNC odds have them as just 7.5-point underdogs.

Duke vs UNC Odds

Team Spread Total
Duke Blue Devils -7.5 (-115) O 150.5 (-110)
North Carolina Tar Heels +7.5 (-105) U 150.5 (-110)

*Odds taken Feb 7

Only One of These Teams Still Has Title Hopes

In a rare occurrence, North Carolina is on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament field. The Tar Heels are 10-12, and this season has been one of the worst in Tar Heel History. Roy Williams has said as much in the media.

Duke, meanwhile, is still hanging out near the top of the 2020 NCAA Tournament odds at +1200. Their odds are even shorter at sportsbooks, where they sit at +800 as of Friday evening. The Blue Devils are one of the strongest teams in the country as March approaches.

Anthony’s Lukewarm Return

Cole Anthony spent January on the shelf, and his absence was a big part of their freefall that included a five-game losing streak in the ACC. He’s now played two games since returning, but so far, he hasn’t provided the spark they’ve needed in losses to Boston College and #8 Florida State.

In those two games, Anthony has gone 10-of-36 from the field, good for just 27.7% He’s shooting an identical percentage from behind the three-point line during that stretch as well. In that loss to FSU, he also went 3-of-8 from the free throw line. Needless to say, Anthony has not been anywhere near the player that the Tar Heels have needed.

Blue Devils Marching to the Tournament

This has been a shaky year at the top of the sport, so in juxtaposition, a 19-3 Duke team, ranked just seventh in the nation is good enough. This may not be the athletically elite squad of last year, or one of the dominant teams of the past, but it’s still pretty good. Pretty good has a shot to win a title this year.

Duke has won four straight games, but Saturday will be an interesting spot for them. Going on the road in this rivalry is always difficult, but that’s only compounded by the fact that this will be their third straight ACC road game.

They’re led, of course, by Vernon Carey Jr. The big man is posting 17.8 points per game and nine rebounds. This may not be an all-time Duke team, but he’s carving out a role as an all-time Duke star.

What’s the Best Bet?

The Blue Devils have had trouble in Chapel Hill in recent seasons, but this year provides a far different situation. The Tar Heels have been abysmal against the spread, going just 8-14 on the year and 2-9 at home.

This is one the most lopsided Duke-UNC matchups in a long time. Duke is fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency (117.2) and 11th in adjusted defensive efficiency (90.4). That stands in stark contrast to UNC’s 117th offense (104.9) and 86th defense (97.2).

KenPom has this at 80-68 Duke, and I’m going to fall in line with that thinking. The spread feels way too short, so Duke is the way to go.

The pick: Duke -7.5 (-105)

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