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Duke vs. North Carolina

ACC Basketball Pick

2/8/12

The 10th ranked Duke Blue Devils travel to Chapel Hill to take on the 5th ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in their first meeting of the year. Duke comes in at 19-4 overall and 6-2 in the ACC while North Carolina is 20-3 overall and 7-1 in conference play. North Carolina opened as a -7 home favorite and the early betting action has driven that number down to -6. The posted total is 158 at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.

This game was obviously a no brainer to use as our marquee game of the day to write up. If you're a college hoops fan, you'll be tuned in tonight at 9pm est. on ESPN as these two storied programs square off once again.

One of the best bets in all of sports is to find a live dog. An underdog that you feel has a very good chance to win a given game straight up. The points you're getting become a bonus at that point. Certainly Duke would fit the bill as a "live dog' here especially when you consider that they are coming off a loss and haven't dropped back to back games in over 3 years.

Unfortunately for Duke, they'll have to win on the road against a team that for the most part has obliterated it's opponents. The Tar Heels average margin of victory at home is 23 points per game, top 3 in the nation. Wisconsin managed to come within 3 and Long Beach within 6, but otherwise no teams come close and Duke has failed against the elite on the road already, losing by 22 at Ohio State and by 5 at Temple. Heck, Duke has lost at home this year, twice, last time out vs. Miami and a few weeks earlier to Florida State.

As always, we run our model several ways on a game. We run it using season to date data as well as more recent data. Our season to date run predicts a final of 82-81 North Carolina. Using the last 5 games only, we come up with a 78-77 NC win. Stretching the parameters a tad further, basically in the middle of season to date and last 5, we come up with a 7 point NC win. So, certainly worth looking at Duke here.

One common trait among successful bettors, and there are very few of those, is always getting the best line. A good way to judge any handicapper, or yourself, is to compare the lines they (or you) get with the closing lines. If you're consistently beating the closing prices, you're likely a long term winner. If you're not beating the closing line regularly, and yet you're still winning, you're likely having some luck.

Most long term winners not only beat the closing line, but also end up with the best line that was ever available on the games they bet, or very close to it. Just look at the final scores in college hoops each night. Look at what would happen if you added a point and a half to each dogs price, or took away a point and a half from the favorites final score total. Lots of results would change from a betting perspective. That's the difference between winning and losing over the long haul.

So while we like Duke in this spot, we won't bet them at +6. We'll watch the board and hope to see that line drift back to +7 and hopefully beyond. We'll recommend playing Duke at +7 or more.

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