UNC Tar Heels to Give Duke Blue Devils a Scare as 8-Point Dogs? NCAA Basketball Picks

Joe Gavazzi

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 3:23 PM GMT

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015 3:23 PM GMT

In what many have described as “the greatest rivalry in all of college basketball,” Duke will host North Carolina tonight and we have our professional prediction sculpted for optimum profit.

N. Carolina vs. Duke (-8-) 9:00 ET ESPN
At 9:00 pm ET, N. Carolina will have traveled the 8 miles of pine-lined highway between Chapel Hill and Durham for this ESPN tipoff of college basketball giants.  It is the first of 2 annual meetings between these heated rivals. Last season, these two split a pair of home court decisions with N. Carolina winning (74-66) in Chapel Hill and Duke winning (93-81) at Cameron Indoor Stadium.  This year, Duke is 9-3 SU in ACC play and N. Carolina is 8-4 SU in ACC play, each trail Virginia (12-1 SU) and Notre Dame (11-3 SU) for conference superiority.  Nonetheless, the game is of huge interest to those placing NCAA Basketball picks & fans alike with implications for both ACC Tourney seeding, as well as NCAA seeds.  Let’s take a look at each team’s season to date for indicators that will lead us to this pointspread winner.

This is one of Coach K’s youngest teams ever, with no fewer than 3 freshmen in his starting lineup.  Everyone is aware of Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, the Duke big man who, as a freshman, is widely touted to be the best player in college basketball this season.  Okafor averages 18 PPG on 67% shooting and 9 rebounds per game.  But precocious freshman guard Tyus Jones has been a positive force on the perimeter.  It appears that Duke has survived the media hoopla that surrounded Coach K’s 1,000thvictory at St. Johns on January 25th.  In fact, including that victory, Duke enters as winners of 8/9 but just a 5-4 ATS mark.  In fact, the notoriety accorded to Duke has left them overpriced.  This is a team who dominated the home ATS records for years, but who is under .500 ATS at Cameron in the last 4 seasons.  Most recently, Duke is 2-8 ATS as home favorite since mid-November.

The news for N. Carolina has not been as positive.  The Tar Heels are mired in a 1-3 SU, 2-9 ATS slide.  Most recently, they blew an 18 point 2nd half lead in an OT loss at Louisville, lost on their strong home court to No. 2 Virginia, then allowed Pitt to shoot 65% in last weekend’s 89-76 loss to the Panthers.  That loss came following the news of the death of long-time legendary coach, Dean Smith.  Thus, the question becomes can the Tar Heels bounce back to outperform expectations in this rivalry game?   

There have been few coaches, other than Tar Heel mentor Roy Williams, whose teams have been as resilient as his N. Carolina team.  Teams coached by Williams are 53-26 ATS, following a defeat, including 4-2 ATS in that role this season.  Expect Carolina to counter Okafor with their own big man duo of Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson.  While all- league PG Marcus Paige bounces back from his poor game vs. Pitt and takes center stage for N. Carolina.  Gladly grab the 9 points with underdog N. Carolina off a loss as rivalry dog in NCAA Basketball odds.

NCAA Basketball Picks: Take N. Carolina +8.5 at 5Dimes

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