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North Carolina Tar Heels vs Duke Blue Devils Betting Preview

In over a century of being each other’s biggest rivals, North Carolina and Duke have played each other 255 times. On Saturday, the two teams will square off in the NCAA tournament for the first time ever.

In his final season as head coach, Mike Krzyzewski is trying to lead the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils (32-6) to one last National Championship.

Standing in their way are the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels (28-9). This game will be played at Caesars Superdome, with tipoff scheduled for 8:49 pm ET.

To get to this point, the Tar Heels have taken down No. 9 Marquette, No. 1 Baylor, No. 4 UCLA, and No. 15 Saint Peter’s. In their 69-49 Elite Eight win over the Peacocks, Armando Bacot led the way with a game-high 20 points and 22 rebounds.

After dropping the ACC tournament championship, Duke has bounced back nicely this tournament with wins over No. 15 CSUF, No. 7 Michigan State, No. 3 Texas Tech, and No. 4 Arkansas.

In the 78-69 Elite Eight win over the Razorbacks, AJ Griffin had a team-high 18 points while Paolo Banchero, Wendell Moore, and Mark Williams combined for 46 points.

Duke is the favorite in this one. They are -196 to win while the Tar Heels’ moneyline sits at +162. The spread features North Carolina +4 (-110), and the over/under for total points is 151.

By The Numbers

These have been two of the best offenses in the nation this season. The Blue Devils rank sixth in scoring averaging 80.1 points per game. North Carolina ranks 19th, averaging 78.1 points.

Defensively, it is again Duke with the edge. They rank 113th in scoring defense allowing opponents an average of just 67.4 points per game. The Tar Heels rank 211th allowing 71.1 points.

Tar Heels Trying To Rain On Krzyzewski’s Parade Again

On March 5, the final regular-season game of the season and the final time Mike Krzyzewski would ever coach at Cameron Indoor Stadium, North Carolina came in and beat Duke 94-81. Now, as these two battle for a spot in the National Championship, the Tar Heels will try to repeat their success and literally try to end Krzyzewski’s career.

The first time these two played, Duke had no answers defensively. Brady Manek (20), RJ Davis (21), Caleb Love (22), and Armando Bacot (23) all eclipsed the 20-point mark. They may need their offense to be that dominant again on Saturday.

Throughout the entire season, it has been Bacot who has led first-year head coach Hubert Davis’ offense. On the year, he is averaging 16.5 points, 12.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game.

Aside from Bacot, the other contributors include Love 915.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists), Manek (15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds), and Davis (13.4 points, four rebounds, 3.7 assists).

Krzyzewski Looking For Number Six

UCLA’s legendary coach John Wooden leads all men’s basketball coaches with 10 National Championships. In second place is coach Krzyzewski with five. On Saturday, he will look to take his squad one step closer to winning his sixth championship in his 42nd and last year of being head coach at Duke.

The Blue Devils’ high-octane offense is led by freshman phenom Paolo Banchero. This season, he is averaging 17.1 points on 47.8 percent shooting. He is also averaging 7.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.1 steals.

Banchero doesn’t have to do it alone, though, as the Blue Devils are extremely deep. Wendell Moore Jr (13.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists), Mark Williams (11.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.9 blocks), Trevor Keels (11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists), and AJ Griffin (10.5 points, 3.9 rebounds) all have the ability to take over a game.

Take Duke To Win

When two of the biggest rivals in all of college basketball clash, you can throw records, head to heads, and any other trend out the window as these are almost always instant classics. Don’t expect Saturday to be any different.

On paper, Duke has the deeper and stronger roster, but as North Carolina proved not even a month ago, they have the talent to take down the Blue Devils.

One of the problems with Duke is their youth can lead to inconsistencies. They start three freshmen and a sophomore, with only Wendell Moore Jr (junior) being an upperclassmen.

Still, what Duke lacks in experience, they make up for in blue-chip recruits. All five of the Duke starters will eventually be NBA bound, and if they can play as a unit, they are probably the most talented unit left in this tournament.

At the end of the day, don’t be surprised if North Carolina keeps this one close and possibly even covers the four-point spread, but expect coach K to have his squad ready to get revenge for their regular-season finale loss and to punch their ticket to the championship game Monday night.

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