North Carolina Tarheels vs. Duke Blue Devils
Free NCAA Pick: North Carolina +1.5 (-110)
Sat March 8 ’08 9:00p
Games do not get much bigger than this one on Tobacco Road, as the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils battle for the ACC regular season title. Perhaps more importantly, the winner of this contest may be assured of a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Now Duke did win the first meeting between these schools handily this season 89-78 at Chapel Hill, but keep in mind that was the first came the Tar Heels played without their injured point guard Ty Lawson, and it showed in their performance. The Heels did improve without Lawson soon after that though, and he is now back and fully motivated after missing that first encounter.
North Carolina has won seven straight games since the Duke defeat, and after squeaking by without Lawson for a couple of games, the last five wins have all been by double-digits, with an average winning margin in those five contests of +18,4 points! Also, do not lose sight of the fact that the Tar Heels are 19-8, 70.4 percent against the spread this season with an overall AMOV of +17.2 points, this despite being a popular team among bettors, which generally results in inflated lines.
Now Duke has gone in the other direction since beating the Heels in the first go-around, going just 3-5 ATS in the eight games since then including shocking outright losses to Wake Forest and Miami Florida. Now granted, they are 15-0 straight up at home, but they are just 2-2 ATS here during this current eight-game swoon, and one of the covers came in a non-conference game vs. a thoroughly outclassed St. John’s team. They have obviously not hosted a team nearly of the caliber of North Carolina all season.
Besides, the Tar Heels do not mind visiting Durham, as they have won each of their last two visits here outright. In fact, UNC is 4-1 ATS in the last five head-to-head meetings with the Blue Devils. With Lawson now back in the lineup, we look for the better North Carolina team to get revenge for that first loss at home by winning here at Duke, locking up a one seed in the Big Dance in the process.
CBB Free Pick: North Carolina +1.5
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