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North Carolina vs Duke Game Preview, Live Stream, Odds, Picks & Predictions

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Duke is not ready to let Coach K retire without another title

The attention will be on Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski heading into his final matchup with North Carolina but he won’t score a basket, grab a rebound or draw an offensive foul in the national semifinal. His team dominated by freshmen and sophomores has shown tremendous maturity in dealing with the added buzz coming from Coach K’s final March Madness bracket experience.

Duke hasn’t been overly dominant but at this time of the year it is all about surviving and advancing and Blue Devils have done just that.

North Carolina vs Duke Game Preview, Live Stream, Odds, Picks & Predictions

Neither team relies on a deep bench so if this becomes a foul fest, it will be interesting to see which team’s reserves step forward.

Duke (+155) is tied for the best odds to win the national championship while North Carolina’s odds are +475.

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Streaky backcourt holds the key for North Carolina

It isn’t very often that a team has a pair of guards with 30-point games in the NCAA tournament. North Carolina sophomore R.J. Davis went off for 30 in an upset against defending national champion Baylor in the second round. In the next game, classmate Caleb Love had 30 points as North Carolina eliminated UCLA.

Both players have had their offensive struggles during the March Madness bracket as well. Davis is 5 for 22 from the field in the last two games while Love had just one field goal in the overtime win against Baylor.

If Davis and Love both have it going at the same time, North Carolina will be a tough out. That is a big if because it seems as if they take turns thriving as the hot hand from the perimeter.

Davis was the more effective scorer in the two regular-season games against the Blue Devils including a 21-point effort in a 13-point win in the regular-season finale.

North Carolina is 8-1 against the Las Vegas odds in its last nine games.

Freshmen hold the key to Duke’s title hopes

The tournament had a chance to showcase the best and the brightest from a talented group of freshmen. Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Michigan’s Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate, Kentucky’s Tyty Washington, Tennessee’s Kennedy Chandler, and the Memphis duo of Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates weren’t able to experience the thrill of playing in the Final Four. However, Duke is relying on three freshmen in its quest to send out retiring coaching legend Mike Krzyzewski with another national title.

Paolo Banchero, the No. 4 rated player by ESPN in the Class of 2021, hasn’t disappointed, as he is Duke’s leading scorer and rebounder. He has the best odds at +325 to be named the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four.

A.J. Griffin has made big play after big play as Duke worked its way through the March Madness bracket. The postseason has been more of a struggle for Trevor Keels.

All three of them will be playing key roles as Duke looks for its first national title since 2015. None of Duke’s top six scorers had played in the NCAA tournament coming into the season so it bears watching how they handle the Final Four pressure.

The college basketball spreads total has gone over in eight of Duke’s last 10 games.

North Carolina vs Duke Head-to-Head

Two numbers stand out. First, this will be the 100th North Carolina-Duke game since Mike Krzyzewski was hired at Duke. It will also be the first time the bitter rivals will meet in the NCAA tournament. They were a game away in 1991 as a North Carolina win over Kansas in the national semifinals would have set Tobacco Road into emotional overload with a national title game between the Tar Heels and Blue Devils.

The teams split their two meetings this season, each winning on the other’s home court. Those results can be discounted when it comes to the March Madness predictions as both teams are much different than the ones that met up the first two times.

North Carolina has won six of the last 10 meetings and has covered eight of those contests.

Something to consider for those who bet online, each of the last six games went over the total. The winning team averaged 91.7 points per game in those six games.

Each of the last three games has been decided by double digits. If that happens on Saturday, it would be the first time since 2001 and 2002 that four straight games in the intense rivalry were determined by at least 10 points.

North Carolina vs Duke Game Information

  • Game: North Carolina (28-9) vs Duke (32-6)
  • Location: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Day/Time: Saturday, April 2nd, 8:49 p.m. ET
  • North Carolina vs Duke Live stream: TBS.com

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North Carolina vs Duke Betting Lines

North Carolina vs Duke Prediction

One of the keys will be how well Duke keeps North Carolina away from the offensive rebounds. Armando Bacot has pulled down 24 offensive rebounds and Brady Manek has seven. Duke is -12 in offensive rebounds during the tournament.

North Carolina has shot 22 more free throws than Duke in the NCAA tournament with Bacot going to the line 33 times. However, Duke is shooting 86% from the line in the tournament.

Duke is listed by the March Madness odds as a four-point favorite so whatever happened when North Carolina came to Cameron Indoor Stadium and blew out the Bue Devils in Krzyzewski’s last home game is being discounted. Duke might be the team with the best odds to win the tournament but the eye test is saying that a four-point line is a bit on the high side.

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Pick: Duke -190

Pick: North Carolina +4 (-110)

March Madness Bracket
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