North Carolina vs. Duke Final Four Odds & Picks: How Our Staff is Betting This Rivalry Game
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images. Pictured: R.J. Davis (North Carolina)
North Carolina vs. Duke for the third time. On one of the biggest stages in sports: the Final Four. In what could potentially be Coach K’s last game on the sidelines.
It truly doesn’t get any better than this.
But no one is reading this piece to sit back, relax and just watch what’s to come. If you’re looking to make some cash, you’ve come to the right place, as our staff has their best bets for this rivalry affair.
Our 9 Best Bets For North Carolina-Duke Final Four Game
The table below represents each pick that our college basketball staff is targeting for Saturday’s Final Four game between North Carolina and Duke. Click a pick below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Alex Hinton||Over 151|
|D.J. James||North Carolina +4.5|
|Kody Malstrom||North Carolina ML +162|
|Stuckey||Bacot Under 12.5 Rebounds (+100)|
|Kyle Remillard||Duke -2 1H|
|Shane McNichol||Duke 1H Team Total Over 36.5|
|Tanner McGrath||Griffin/Manek Combine for 7+ 3s (+200)|
|Charlie DiSturco||Manek Over 2.5 3s (-110)|
|Patrick Strollo||Under 151.5|
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
North Carolina vs. Duke
By Alex Hinton
North Carolina and Duke are college basketball royalty and often have their pick of elite talent to fill their roster. North Carolina has two five-star and eight four-star recruits on its roster. Duke has five players that were five-stars and three four-stars.
With so much talent on the court, UNC and Duke often play high-scoring games. The last 10 meetings have averaged 162.9 points per game. At least one team has scored 85 points in seven of those 10 and in each of the last six meetings.
This year, the over is 2-0 in the first two meetings, an 87-67 Duke victory in Chapel Hill and a 94-81 UNC win in Durham. The high-scoring affairs were aided by 34 3-pointers in the first two meetings.
North Carolina and Duke are both strong 3-point shooting teams. For the season, UNC shoots 36.1% from beyond the arc while Duke is at 37% from deep.
Both teams are very efficient on the offensive end beyond 3s, though. North Carolina is 18th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency while Duke is first in the category. Additionally, Duke is eighth nationally in effective field goal percentage and 2-point percentage.
It helps that Duke has future top-five pick Paolo Banchero to throw the ball to on the block when it needs a bucket, and center Mark Williams as a lob threat. North Carolina will counter with center Armando Bacot when it needs a bucket in the post.
The over has hit in each of the last five meetings between these two, and I expect another high-scoring affair. With the total at 151, I think that’s a great value, and I would play it up to 155.
Pick: Over 151 (Play to 155)
North Carolina +4.5
By D.J. James
The North Carolina Tar Heels are on a roll and face off with their noteworthy rivals, Duke, in what might be the most anticipated game of the season.
These two have traded blows and each won a game against the other this season. However, the line is a bit too wide, and the Tar Heels have a little value.
For one, UNC is a better rebounding team. Armando Bacot is a double-double machine, and it does not look like he will stop in the Final Four.
Per ShotQuality, Duke ranks 73rd and 210th in offensive and defensive rebounding, respectively. UNC ranks 82nd and fourth, respectively. This should be a massive edge for the Tar Heels.
Duke does have a tendency to drive the ball and shoot from inside. UNC is holding opponents to 47.5% inside the perimeter on the season. This should be enough to at least alter some shots on the interior. This also plays into UNC’s hands because it does not defend the arc all that well.
On the other end, North Carolina does shoot over 36% from deep on the season. Duke ranks 237th in Open 3 Rate, so Brady Manek, R.J. Davis and Caleb Love should have plenty of outside opportunities.
Finally, Bacot has proven he is enough of a presence to offset the impact inside from Duke.
Pick: North Carolina +4.5 (Play to +4)
North Carolina ML +162
No, this is not a homer pick. No, this is not because I am going to watch the game live in NOLA. And no, it’s not because I want the Coach K retirement tour to end.
This pick is based on the fact that I truly believe UNC has a greater chance to dethrone Duke than the number implies.
We saw UNC get blown out by 20 in the first meeting vs. Duke this year before getting its revenge in the season finale with a 13-point win. Per ShotQuality, UNC actually lost by one in the first meeting and reaffirmed itself in the second game.
UNC decided to smother everyone else on the court not named Paolo Banchero in the second game, turning Duke into a one-dimensional scoring unit. On the flip side, UNC exposed the Blue Devils’ perimeter defense, spreading them thin and in turn, allowing Armando Bacot to cook on the inside.
UNC will once again have the advantage on the boards, as it has built an identity on crashing the glass and limiting second-chance opportunities for opposing offenses. Since Duke is one of the best offensive units in basketball, the Heels will need to limit the Blue Devils at every chance they can get.
If North Carolina can successfully crash the boards, hit open 3s, limit transition chances for Duke and stay out of foul trouble, then it will be in a prime spot to advance to the title game and bury Coach K once and for all.
You can take UNC at +4.5 as a more safe bet, but I will ride the moneyline in hopes the Tar Heels will continue their red-hot streak.
Pick: North Carolina ML +162 (Play to +150)
Armando Bacot Under 12.5 Rebounds (+100)
I think Armando Bacot’s rebounding total is too high at 12.5.
That’s his season average, but he only grabbed 12 total rebounds (seven and five) in the two meetings vs. Duke this year.
He’s also gone under this number in 20 of 37 total games.
Pick: Armando Bacot Under 12.5 Rebounds (+100)
Duke -2 1H
The line on this historic Final Four matchup has had me baffled all week. Duke was favored by 3.5 at North Carolina in the first meeting and 11 in Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game.
That would typically imply around a seven-point spread on a neutral site, yet the Blue Devils are only laying four points in this game.
Granted, both of these programs are playing at their peak right now. But I anticipate Duke will come out fired up with revenge on its mind after the 13-point loss that spoiled Krzyzewski’s farewell game.
The first time these two programs met, Duke coasted, holding a double-digit lead the entirety of the game. In the rematch, they played solid in the first half, including a 14-0 run that led to an eight-point lead with less than two minutes to go.
Duke allowed North Carolina to hit nearly 40% of its 23 3-point attempts in the rematch.
I anticipate Krzyzewski will adjust his defense to prevent that this time around. Mark Williams is a capable interior defender who can slow down Armando Bacot, and the Blue Devils will help less off the shooters.
The talent Duke has on its roster is unlike any remaining team in the NCAA Tournament field.
All five starters are NBA bound, and the offense has emerged as the most efficient in the country, according to KenPom. They’ve proven more than capable of dominating in a half-court set, as well as in transition.
I anticipate Duke will come out with revenge on its mind, and when the Blue Devils are at their best, no one can keep up.
Pick: Duke -2 1H (Play to -2.5)
Duke 1H Team Total Over 36.5
This number might seem high at first glance, but these Blue Devils have been spurting out to hot starts in their recent games.
In nine of Duke’s last 10, the Blue Devils have posted 36 points or more in the first half, with only a pounding Texas Tech team keeping them below that mark.
Coach K likely wants to see his team push the pace, making Armando Bacot run the floor with Duke’s athletic bigs.
Carolina will have no problem if the game starts to pick up speed. The Heels won the last meeting at Cameron Indoor in a game that featured 75 total possessions and 175 total points.
I’m also not worried about either team — especially Duke — having trouble shooting the ball at the Superdome. The fallacy of teams shooting poorly at football stadiums has subsided, and Duke’s best shooting game of the year came in college basketball’s largest dome — the Carrier Dome at Syracuse.
The Blue Devils hung 97 points that day, their most against a power-conference foe all season.
Pick: Duke 1H Team Total Over 36.5
Griffin/Manek Combine for 7+ 3s (+200)
I absolutely hate this game from a side and total perspective. I think the market has entered top efficiency, and I can’t get a feel for this massive rivalry game. I’m going to back off and just enjoy the biggest game of the century from the sidelines.
However, I found this fun prop on DraftKings, and I think it’s worth a sprinkle.
On the Action Network Podcast earlier this week, Doug Ziefel gave out AJ Griffin over 1.5 3-pointer made, and I gave out Brady Manek o2.5 3s.
Why not combine them and take this prop at +200?
Manek has been a flamethrower, shooting 40.2% from deep since the calendar flipped to February. In his two games against Duke, he launched 20 3s and made 11 of them.
Meanwhile, Griffin is one of the top-20 3-point shooters in the country, making 45.8% of his attempts from deep this season. In his two games against North Carolina, he shot 4-for-9 from deep.
Both teams are sub-200 nationally in defending both catch-and-shoot 3s and off-the-dribble 3s, per ShotQuality. So, there will be plenty of solid opportunities for these two deep threats to bomb away and cash a 2-1 prop.
Pick: AJ Griffin & Brady Manek to Combine for 7+ 3s (+200)
Brady Manek Over 2.5 3s (-110)
The trilogy of arguably the greatest rivalry in college basketball is set to cap off Saturday night in what has Game of the Year potential. These are two fast-paced and efficient offenses, and points shouldn’t be an issue
Enter Brady Manek. The Oklahoma graduate transfer has given North Carolina a much-needed boost in 2022 and has been dominant in the NCAA Tournament. He can stretch the floor and take advantage of a Duke defense that struggles to defend the perimeter.
Manek is in the 87th percentile at catch-and-shoot 3s, per ShotQuality. Duke, meanwhile, ranks 196th among all Division I teams.
In the previous two matchups between these teams, Manek attempted a total of 20 shots from beyond the arc. He made 11.
Armando Bacot should keep Duke busy in the interior, and with Caleb Love and R.J. Davis trending upward, there should be plenty of scoring opportunities for the 6-foot-9 forward.
The UNC offense is too high-powered to be limited, especially against an inefficient perimeter defense like Duke.
In all four NCAA Tournament games — even with an early exit against Baylor — Manek has made three or more 3s. Even more notable, when he takes six or more in a game, Manek is 17-4 to the over of the current number listed across sportsbooks (2.5).
I expect a similar game script to the previous two UNC-Duke bouts: high scoring, run-and-gun offensive scripts and plenty of 3s.
Manek is the Tar Heels’ most consistent 3-point shooter, and I think 2.5 is too low for a veteran who should provide a steady dose of offense on Saturday.
Pick: Brady Manek Over 2.5 3s (-110)
This will be the third time that these two hatred-filled rivals will mix it up this season. In both of the previous contests, the over hit on totals of 152.5 (154 points scored) and 153.5 (175 points scored).
The two programs split the season series, with both schools losing at home.
Familiarity brings about predictability, and predictably lends itself to more robust game plans and dynamic on-court execution as a season wears on.
I expect Coach K and the Blue Devils to game plan around slowing down the up-tempo Tar Heels after losing in a fast-paced game at home, 94-81, in the last outing.
North Carolina needs to be cognizant of a highly capable Duke offense that’s the most efficient in the nation. Another shootout isn’t in North Carolina’s best interest.
The Heels will have to control the defensive glass, where they’ve been outstanding all season, ranking second nationally.
From a technical and Vegas standpoint, I love the idea of fading three straight overs. I just don’t think it happens again. The models are clear that a total of 151 is the right number for these familiar foes.
Both teams are just 2-2 against the total in the NCAA Tournament, and both failed to hit the over in their Elite Eight matchups.
Let the familiarity of these neighboring blue bloods work in your favor by taking the under in New Orleans.