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Duke at North Carolina

ACC Basketball Rivalry

2/10/10

One of the biggest rivalries in college hoops resumes tonight as Duke visits the North Carolina Tar Heels for a big ACC conference affair. Certainly this matchup lacks some luster, when compared to years past, mainly because of the Tar Heels current slide and 13-10 record. Very un-Tar Heel like you might say. But this game isn't without it's sub plots and drama. Let's take a look.

I'm not big on emotional edges in college hoops. Football, yes. Hoops, not so much. Hoops is much more mechanical and by the numbers. Yes home court in big in college hoops, for some teams, but angles such as revenge or being pumped up play out much more favorably in physical sports like football, where adrenaline alone can make a team better.

Having said that, there are still some emotional and motivational situations worth mentioning here. Let's look first at those edges, as they pertain to the Tar Heels. For starters, it's been an incredibly disappointing year for one of the kings of college hoops, Roy Williams and his Tar Heels. They aren't used to mediocrity. At 13-10 and 2-6 in the ACC, well, that doesn't go over very well in Chapel Hill. But as bad as things are, a win tonight over Duke would no doubt salvage the season. For a little extra motivational edge, the Tar Heels are going to be retiring the Jersey of Tyler Hansbrough before tip off tonight. Throw in a National TV audience for good measure and this proud, storied program has plenty to play for tonight.

The Blue Devils are not without motivation of their own. Though currently ranked 8th in the land, most college basketball insiders have Duke as one of the top 3 teams in the Nation. Tonight they get an opponent that has held the upper hand in the series with a chance to turn the tables. North Carolina has won 6 of the last 7 meetings between these two. The magnitude of this rivalry is huge. Duke needs to seize this opportunity to bring some balance back to this series. Having a good year but not being able to top the Tar Heels just won't cut it.

Duke clearly is the better team. They have the edge at every position on the floor. Duke has not played well on the road and has had trouble extending leads in ACC play but they get a North Carolina team that has dropped 6 of their last 7 games including their last 3 home games, one of those a 15 point loss to Virginia. They also lost by 13 to Wake Forest at home and have been hammered by top teams like Syracuse and Clemson.

The line on this game currently sits at Duke -6 at Sportsbook.com but you're likely to see that line drop over the course of the day as Tar Heel money comes in. You have to look at this game and come to the conclusion that Duke is the much better team this year, certainly every bit as good as the teams that have spanked the Tar Heels, and figure they can cover this spot. Both teams have plenty to play for here, so can't see the motivational edges for the Tar Heels making a difference. This could be a statement game for Duke. I have them winning 82-70 here. Currently, Duke -6 but wait for the line to drop before you play it.

 

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