NCAA Basketball Picks: Duke vs. North Carolina

Jeff Grant

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 1:01 PM GMT

Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 1:01 PM GMT

The Duke Blue Devils are one of the more prolific shooting teams in the country, but they’ll face a stiff challenge when taking on the UNC Tar Heels Wednesday. How should college basketball bettors place their picks in this always exciting rivalry battle.

Let’s take a closer look at the NCAA basketball odds for this ACC matchup at the Smith Center, with the opening tip scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

[gameodds]14/257658/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Playing great basketball

Duke is playing its best basketball of the 2013-14 campaign, as it has compiled a 7-1 SU and 8-0 ATS record over its last eight games, including a 89-68 victory over the Boston College Eagles as 9.5-point road favorites last Saturday. 

The Blue Devils will be playing away from home for the fourth time in their last five games, which could prove troublesome due to their 1-2 SUATS mark as road favorites of three or fewer points the last two-plus seasons.

Trending upward 

North Carolina has been a very difficult team to figure out this season, but it has won and covered the number in five consecutive contests, including a 73-62 victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as 1.5-point road favorites last Saturday. 

The Tar Heels are leading the conference in three point field goal percentage defense during ACC play, which is important to handicap given the fact that the Blue Devils lead the country in shooting from beyond the arc

Parker 

The Blue Devils have three players averaging in double figures, with freshman forward Jabari Parker leading the way at 19.2 points a contest—setting a school record for a freshman in posting 14 20-point performances. 

Parker logged his eight double-double of the season last time out with career highs of 29 points and 16 rebounds. 

Getting after it defensively 

College basketball handicappers need to take a long look at the home underdog in this spot, as the Tar Heels have held the Blue Devils to under 50 percent shooting in 19 of 21 meetings since Roy Williams took over in Chapel Hill. 

North Carolina has dropped seven of the last nine meetings in this storied rivalry, while the UNDER is 5-1 in the last six installments at this venue. 

Prediction 

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Tar Heels as one of their college basketball picks, as they’ve gone 16-3 SU and 14-5 ATS in February the last two-plus seasons. 

Free NCAA Basketball Pick:  North Carolina Tar Heels +2.5

comment here