North Carolina at Duke
March 2, 2018
By Brian Edwards
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Duke will be looking for revenge Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium when it hosts arch-rival North Carolina. It will be Senior Night for Grayson Allen, the lone senior on the roster who helped the Blue Devils win a national title over Wisconsin in the finals as a true freshman.
As of Friday night, most books had Duke (24-6 straight up, 18-10 against the spread) installed as a seven-point favorite with a total of 161.5.
Duke is ranked fifth in the latest Associated Press Top 25 and fourth in the RPI Rankings. Mike Krzyzewski’s team is 3-2 against the RPI Top 25, 8-3 versus the Top 50 and 13-6 against the Top 100. The Blue Devils have home wins over the likes of FSU, Va. Tech, Louisville, Syracuse, Notre Dame, South Dakota, Furman and Utah Valley. They have neutral-court victories over Florida, Michigan State and Texas, in addition to road triumphs at Clemson and at Miami.
Duke has won 14 of 15 home games while compiling a 9-4 spread record. The Blue Devils have been double-digit favorites in every home game with just one exception. In their lone spot as single-digit home ‘chalk,’ they dropped a 65-63 decision to Virginia as 3.5-point favorites.
Coach K’s club saw its five-game winning streak both SU and ATS snapped in Monday’s 64-63 loss at Va. Tech. Allen scored a team-best 22 points in the losing effort, but he made only 6-of-18 field-goal attempts and committed six turnovers. Marvin Bagley III finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Bagley leads Duke in scoring (20.7 points per game) and rebounding (11.1 RPG). Allen (15.5 PPG) has a team-high 47 steals and a 136/65 assist-to-turnover ratio, while Gary Trent Jr. averages 14.3 PPG while burying 42.9 percent of his treys. Wendell Carter Jr. (14.3 PPG, 9.5 RPG) paces the Blue Devils in blocked shots (2.2 BPG) and is hitting 48.6 percent of his 3-balls.
North Carolina (22-8 SU, 16-12 ATS) is ninth in the AP’s latest poll and sixth in the RPI. Roy Williams’s squad is 4-4 vs. the RPI Top 25, 8-6 against the Top 50 and 15-7 versus the top 100. UNC has home scalps of Michigan, Clemson, Duke, Notre Dame, Boston College and Bucknell. The Tar Heels have road wins at Tennessee, at Louisville, at Syracuse, at Notre Dame, at N.C. State and at Stanford. They also have neutral-court victories over Arkansas and Ohio State.
UNC has a 6-4 SU record and a 4-5-1 ATS mark in 10 true road games. The Tar Heels have been road underdog three times, going 1-2 SU and 1-1-1 versus the number.
Joel Berry II is UNC’s leading scorer (18.2 PPG), while Luke Maye (17.9 PPG) paces the Tar Heels in rebounding (10.2 RPG), FG percentage (51.5%) and blocks (1.2 BPG).
Williams’s squad is in bounce-back mode after Miami snapped its six-game winning streak in stunning (for UNC fans) and thrilling (for UM fans) fashion Tuesday night. On the anniversary of the day he lost his mother several years ago, UM’s Ja’Quan Newton scored the Hurricanes’ last nine points in the final minute, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer only four seconds after Berry had tied the game with a long 3-ball. Newton’s heroics lifted the ‘Canes to a 91-88 win as 10-point road underdogs.
Berry was sensational in defeat. He scored 31 points to go with three assists and three steals. Cameron Johnson added 20 points, five rebounds and two assists without a turnover.
When these teams met for the first time this year in this bitter rivalry on Feb. 8 at the Dean Dome, UNC captured an 82-78 win as a 1.5-point home favorite. The 160 combined points dipped ‘under’ the 167.5-point total.
Berry stole the show for the winners, producing 21 points, four rebounds, two steals and six assists without a turnover. Kenny Williams added 20 points on 6-of-12 marksmanship from long distanmce, while Johnson finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Maye contributed 15 points and eight rebounds.
Trent scored a team-best 16 points for Duke. Bagley had 15 points, 16 boards, two rejections and four assists compared to only one turnover. As for Allen, he was held to nine points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field and 2-of-8 from 3-point territory.
The ‘over’ is 18-11 overall for UNC, 5-5 in its road assignments. The ‘over has hit in three straight for the Tar Heels and is on a 7-2 roll in their past nine outings.
The ‘under’ has cashed in five consecutive contests for Duke. However, the ‘over’ is 16-12 overall for the Blue Devils, but they’ve watched the ‘under’ go 7-6 in their home games.
Tip-off is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Nebraska is facing a torturous 16-day stretch before finding out if its body of work will be enough to garner an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Tim Miles’s team finished the regular season on an 8-1 SU run and an 18-2 ATS surge, but that hot stretch of play didn’t translate to Madison Square Garden in New York City. Michigan took it to the Cornhuskers early and often en route to a 77-58 win as a five-point favorite. John Belein’s team was led by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahim’s 21 points on 5-of-5 shooting from 3-point land. Mo Wagner finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Duncan Robinson added 16 points on 4-of-7 launches from 3-point range. Isaiah Roby had 16 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots in the losing effort. James Palmer Jr. had 16 points as well, but the Cornhuskers made only 4-of-16 attempts from downtown.
-- Michigan advances to Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinals, where it will face Michigan State. The Spartans barely slipped past Wisconsin and never threatened to cover the number as 11.5-point favorites in a 63-60 victory in Friday’s quarterfinals.
-- The Wynn opened Tennessee as a 10-point home favorite vs. Georgia. These SEC rivals squared off two weeks ago in Athens, where UGA captured a 73-62 win as a three-point home underdog. Yante Maten scored 19 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Derek Ogbeide produced 16 points and 11 rebounds. Mark Fox’s team is off a crushing home loss to Texas A&M by a 61-60 count. When UGA has been an underdog of seven points or more, it has compiled a 4-1 spread record with two outright victories. Tennessee owns a 12-2 SU record and a 6-6 ATS mark at home. The Bulldogs have seen the ‘under’ go 10-2 in their road assignments. They’ve been double-digit ‘dogs just once, winning outright at Florida in overtime as 10-point puppies.
-- Florida will play host to Kentucky at noon Eastern on CBS. UF is 11-5 SU and 6-8 ATS at home, while UK is 4-5 both SU and ATS in nine road assignments. The ‘under’ has cashed in three straight head-to-head meetings between these SEC rivals and is 6-1 in the past seven encounters. The Gators have watched the ‘under’ go 8-1 in their last nine outings. Mike White’s team has beaten the Wildcats in two of the last three meetings, including a 66-64 win at Rupp Arena as a two-point road underdog on Jan. 20. Jalen Hudson led the way with 17 points and five rebounds. Since losing three consecutive contests both SU and ATS, UF has responded with back-to-back wins both SU and ATS vs. Auburn (72-66) and at Alabama (73-52). Meanwhile, John Calipari’s bunch has answered a four-game losing streak with four straight victories both SU and ATS. The ‘over’ has hit in four games in a row for the ‘Cats.
-- UF freshman forward Dontay Bassett is ‘out’ vs. UK after sustaining a concussion in Tuesday’s win at Alabama. Bassett, a redshirt freshman with excellent size (6’9”, 240 lbs.), had seen increased minutes recently. In fact, he played a season-high 24 minutes in last Saturday’s win over Auburn, producing career-bests numbers with 12 points and six rebounds. In other UF news, Mike White announced Friday that John Egbunu is officially out for the season. Egbunu tore his ACL in a win at Auburn on Valentine’s Day of 2017. The initial hope was for him to return in late January, but Egbunu’s knee has had swelling in the few practices he’s been able to participate in over the last month.
-- Air Force hosts San Jose State at 4:00 p.m. Eastern in a MWC battle between the league’s cellar dwellers. We’ll nonetheless note that the Falcons have been money makers at home this year, cashing tickets at a 9-2 ATS clip. The Spartans are 1-13 SU and 6-8 ATS in 14 road assignments.
-- Georgetown is 8-1 ATS in nine true road games this season. The Hoyas are at Villanova for a 5:00 p.m. Eastern tip Saturday on FOX. The Wildcats are 11-1 SU and 8-4 ATS at home. Jay Wright’s squad has seen the ‘over’ go 9-2 in its past 11 games to improve to 20-10 overall and 10-2 in its home outings. The ‘over’ is on an 8-2 run for the Hoyas, who have lost three in a row both SU and ATS. When these teams met at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. on Jan. 17, Villanova cruised to an 88-56 win as a 12.5-point road ‘chalk’ to win its seventh straight over Georgetown in this bitter rivalry that dates back to the 1980s. Rollie Massimino’s 1985 squad pulled a monster upset in beating Patrick Ewing’s Hoyas in the national-title game at Rupp Arena.
-- According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports and FanRag Sports, Texas big man Mo Bamba will be a game-time decision for Saturday’s home game vs. West Virginia at noon Eastern on ESPN. Bamba missed Monday’s 80-70 loss at Kansas with a toe injury. The true freshman, who is a likely lottery pick if he leaves Austin for the NBA early, is averaging 13.0 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.8 blocked shots per game. Bamba is the nation’s second-leading shot blocker. Rothstein’s report was early Friday but later in the afternoon, Bamba was downgraded to ‘doubtful.’
-- Alabama’s Herb Jones didn’t practice Thursday due to “a head injury,” according to what Avery Johnson told the media Friday afternoon. He is ‘questionable’ at Texas A&M. Jones averages 4.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.6 blocked shots per game. The Crimson Tide is currently a part of Lunardi’s Last Four Byes and will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak both SU and ATS in College Station.
-- Cincinnati star Jacob Evans sprained his ankle in Thursday’s blowout win at Tulane. The Bearcats will be looking for revenge in Sunday’s regular-season finale at Wichita State. Gamblers should check the status of Evans, who is averaging 13.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocked shots per game.
-- Seton Hall had its three-game winning streak snapped in Wednesday’s 69-68 overtime loss to Villanova as a 6.5-point home underdog. Desi Rodriguez injured his ankle in last week’s win at Providence and has missed back-to-back games since then. Rodriguez, who averages 18.1 points and 5.0 RPG, is ‘questionable’ for Saturday’s 8:00 p.m. Eastern tip vs. Butler on the CBS Sports Network. The Pirates were 1.5-point favorites as of Friday night.
-- Arkansas is peaking at the perfect time, posting a 6-1 record both SU and ATS in its past seven games. The Razorbacks close the regular season Saturday at Missouri on ESPN2 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Mike Anderson’s squad beat his former team 65-63 at Bud Walton Arena earlier this year, but the Tigers took the cash as 4.5-point road underdogs. This time around, Missouri is favored by 3.5 points. Cuonzo Martin and the Tigers are hoping that Michael Porter Jr. is going to play. We shall see…
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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