Duke vs. North Carolina Odds, Pick, Prediction: Can Tar Heels Pull Off Shocker?

Duke vs. North Carolina Odds, Pick, Prediction: Can Tar Heels Pull Off Shocker? article feature image
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Streeter Lecka/Getty Images. Pictured: Tre Jones

  • Updated Duke vs. North Carolina odds list the Blue Devils as a 7.5-point road favorite, with the total at 149.5.
  • The Tar Heels have limped to a 10-12 record and have won just twice in 2020, while Duke is one of the best teams in the nation thanks to a top 10 offense and defense.
  • Get our experts' picks and predictions for Duke-UNC below.

Duke vs. North Carolina Odds

  • Odds: Duke -7.5 at UNC
  • Total: 149.5
  • Time: 6 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
  • Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.

[In New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana or West Virginia? Bet Duke-UNC now at FanDuel]

The best rivalry in college basketball has lost some luster this year with UNC struggling to a 10-12 record, but the atmosphere in Chapel Hill should still be electric on Saturday.

The Tar Heels are the biggest home underdog in this matchup since at least 2006, according to our Bet Labs database.

Can they pull off the upset, or at least keep it close? Let’s dive in.

How Odds Moved for Duke-UNC

Most books opened at Duke -8.5 or -8, and that was too high for early bettors. The line came down to -7.5 in most spots overnight Friday.

Betting action is nearly split, with Duke getting 52% of the bets as of Saturday morning. — Steve Petrella

When Duke Has the Ball

The Blue Devils had their worst shooting performance of the season against Boston College this week, making just one of 15 attempts from beyond the arc. The Eagles are nowhere close to a competent defense, especially around the perimeter.

Duke does not rely on scoring from 3-point range, ranking 293rd in point distribution from beyond the arc. The bread and butter for a young Blue Devils roster is within the arc, where Duke ranks in the top 20 in 2-point shooting percentage nationally.

North Carolina is not a threat to force takeaways, but a rank of 11th nationally in defensive rebounds will limit Duke’s second-chance opportunities. — Collin Wilson

When UNC Has the Ball

The Tar Heels have covered just two games at home this season after their latest loss to Boston College.

The formula for success in most recent games has been power forward Garrison Brooks. In games the junior has shot 50%, North Carolina has either won or gone to overtime.

But shooting has been the biggest issue with Roy Williams’ squad all season, ranking 329th in effective field goal percentage and outside the top 300 in free throw percentage.

Duke is a top 10 team on the national level in adjusted defensive efficiency. Carolina will need to lean in on a offensive rebound rank in the top 25 to create offense, as this Blue Devils team is top 30 in so many defensive categories. — Collin Wilson

Stuckey’s Angles

This isn’t as hyped of a matchup as usual given the struggles of UNC this year but it’s still Duke-Carolina, which means March is in the air. Did you know that in the last 100 times these two teams have played, they have each won 50 games and scored exactly 7,446 points? It literally can’t get any closer than that.

Situationally, this is a great spot for UNC. This is essentially the Super Bowl for a Heels team that won’t be heading to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010 — unless they inexplicably win the ACC Tournament.

I have Duke rated as the No. 2 team in the country. But again, in a year as wide open as this, that doesn’t mean as much as usual. And the Blue Devils haven’t necessarily been dynamite away from Cameron Indoor in ACC play of late.

They had to pull away late against Boston College and Georgia Tech for 8- and 9-point victories, respectively. They also lost at Clemson and needed an uncharacteristically flawless night from the line to beat Syracuse by 9.

Speaking of free throws, that could be an issue for Duke in March and for the rest of the season when trying to cover as a favorite. Coach K’s bunch is shooting sub-70% from the charity stripe for the season (220th) and during conference play (11th).

All that said, +8 isn’t enough for me here as I was hoping to get double digits with Carolina. The injury to Brandon Robinson will hurt here, as he’s one of the best outside shooters on a UNC team that really struggles from beyond the arc.

It will come down to offensive rebounding, which is a strong suit as usual for Roy Williams’ group, and Cole Anthony hero ball. While the Heels could have some success on the offensive glass against a Duke team that doesn’t excel on the boards, the Blue Devils will have the benefit of being able to put one of the best on-ball defenders in the country in Tre Jones on the star freshman Anthony.

The Heels certainly won’t give up in front of their home crowd in what is their biggest game of the year, so they may be worth a live look at more than +10 if Duke jumps out early or Tre Jones gets into foul trouble. Stuckey

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