The greatest rivalry in sports reconvenes for a 249th meeting when the 8th ranked Tar Heels, hot off a blowout win at Wake Forest, invade Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on the top ranked Blue Devils.
Duke is all but unbeatable at Cameron with their only home loss this season coming to Syracuse in OT. The Devils were without star, wing, Cam Reddish, who averages 13.8 points and got an 0-10, 3 point FG performance from Junior forward, Jack White in Reddish’s absence. The Blue Devils are outscoring opponents by 20 points per game. Aside from their two wins over Virginia, their greatest win came on the road at Louisville where they overcame a 23 point deficit in the final 10 minutes to win 71-69. This team of NBA lottery picks proved there that they are not just a front running, bully team, but a team with mental toughness and the ability to turn a game through their defense.
I like the matchup of the ACC’s best defender, Duke’s Tre Jones, on fellow freshman guard, Coby White for UNC. Jones has a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio and White enters with 4.3 assists to 2.8 turnovers per contest. Carolina shot the lights from 3 (16-25) at Wake on Saturday and will need a similar performance to get a win at Duke. R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson are the top two scorers in the Conference and present matchup nightmares for every team. I believe they will prove to be too strong and athletic for Luke Maye and Cameron Johnson to handle over the course of forty minutes. The Tar Heels defense will be hindered by a few ankle injuries to both Nassir Little and key defensive sub, Leaky Black, who has missed the last 5 games. Duke enters the game 8-6 ATS as home favorites and UNC is 8-4 ATS in Conference and 11-6-2 ATS after a SU win.
Duke thrives on energy at home and they lead the nation with 7.2 blocks per game and are third in the nation in steals with 10.5 per game. Nothing gets the “Cameron Crazies” going more than a slam dunk in transition off of a block or a steal…I expect a few of those for the “Dukies” tonight. Aside from competing for a national championship, games like tonight’s are why three lottery picks came to Duke. I expect them to shine on the big stage tonight.
Pick – DUKE