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#4 Duke Blue Devils at #13 North Carolina Tar Heels

Betting Preview and Score Prediction

3/5/11

The fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils (27-3, 13-2 ACC) figured to be runaway winners of the conference’s regular-season title this season after the 13th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels (23-6, 13-2) began the year at 7-4.  But the Tar Heels have lost just twice in 18 games since then, including a 79-73 setback at Duke on February 9.
 
North Carolina is now on the verge of winning the ACC’s regular-season title along with the top seed in the conference tournament next week with a victory against the Blue Devils on Saturday.  The Tar Heels have won their last six games after getting a miraculous 3-pointer from freshman Harrison Barnes with 3.1 seconds remaining to beat Florida State 72-70 on Wednesday.  They blew a 67-60 lead with 3:59 left by allowing a 10-2 run to the Seminoles but still got the win.
 
The Blue Devils had not been so lucky when they visited Tallahassee back on January 12, falling 66-61 for their first loss of the season.  They suffered another road loss in conference play at Virginia Tech last Saturday 64-60 before bouncing back to beat Clemson 70-59 on Wednesday.  Nolan Smith scored a game-high 21 points against the Tigers while Seth Curry and Kyle Singler each added 18.  The UNDER has cashed in Duke’s last five games and is 8-1 in the past nine.
 
In the last meeting with North Carolina, Smith went off for a career-high 34 points, helping his team rally back from a 43-29 halftime deficit.  The Blue Devils scored the first eight points of the second half and then went on a 13-1 run to go up 60-56 with less than nine minutes remaining.  Tyler Zeller led the Tar Heels with 24 points and 13 rebounds in defeat.  Duke has won the last two meetings in the series after losing the previous five.
 
North Carolina has not lost at home this season though, going 14-0 straight-up and 6-5 against the spread in lined games there.  The Tar Heels are also the top rebounding team in the country and held a 45-40 edge on the boards in the first meeting with the Blue Devils.  They are 9-3 against the spread in their last 12 games and have seen the total go OVER in their last two games after going UNDER in their previous five.
 
Duke has already gone unbeaten at home, winning its 36th in a row at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Clemson.  While the two losses for the Blue Devils in conference play both came on the road, they are still 5-2 ATS away from home against ACC opponents.
 
“We have to go on with the mind-set that we’ll play well,” Curry said.  “It’s going to be tough. It’s on the road.  It’s going to be hostile.”

Predicted Score Duke 77 North Carolina 74

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