College Basketball Pick
North Carolina leads the ACC, but this Game still has plenty of meaning as a win would give the Tar Heels the outright regular season title. In addition to that, Carolina would like some revenge after losing in Raleigh just a couple weeks ago.
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since that Game, neither team has done much to insure confidence. Duke lost its only two road Games and most recently lost by 14 points at Pittsburgh. UNC dominated Miami at home, but also fell at Virginia in a battle of what many believe to be the two best teams in the league.
Duke hasn’t been invincible at home this year, although the Blue Devils have now won five straight at Cameron Indoor, one of those coming against Virginia. It’ll be interesting to see how North Carolina comes out after they let the last Game slip away. The Tar Heels led almost the entire Game until Duke found a way in at the end and stole a win. It was even more surprising considering Duke lost one of its starters, Matt Jones, as he only played nine minutes.
The Tar Heels had the advantage for most of the Game as they kept feeding Brice Johnson down low and Duke had no one to stop him. Johnson finished with 29 points and 19 points and could even surpass that total in this Game. The Heels inexplicably went away from using him late in the first meeting and that is part of the reason they let Duke back into the Game. Duke had absolutely no answer to stopping Johnson, whether they played man or zone defense.
With Marshall Plumlee often defending either Kennedy Meeks or Isaiah Hicks, Johnson was left to feast on whomever else Duke had. And even when Plumlee was on Johnson, he didn’t present much of a threat to stopping Johnson.
The problem for the Heels in the first Game was that Marcus Paige and Joel Berry struggled to do much of anything on the perimeter, shooting a combined 4-of-22, which isn’t going to win many Games. As a team, the Heels were just 1-of-13 from long range.
The Blue Devils didn’t shoot much better, but when needed, guys like Grayson Allen and LUke Kennard stepped in. Brandon Ingram didn’t even have that great of a shooting night as he had some trouble with UNC’s size, but still finished with 20 points and 10 boards.
All signs point to the Tar Heels being the better team, which was the case last time around, but somehow Duke ended up with the win. Once again, UNC will dominate the paint with Johnson, but it may come down to what its guards can do on the perimeter. Justin Jackson will always put his usual numbers in (12.3 ppg), but what can Paige, Berry and Nate Britt do?
On the other end, no one on UNC could stop Grayson Allen from driving to the lane and either getting a bucket or fouled. Allen attempted 10 free throws and that’ll be the way Duke can win this Game. They’ll need to hit their shots and Allen or Ingram will have to get to the foul line.
North Carolina would like some revenge, but the Heels haven’t exactly played consistently away from home this year. But with the outright ACC title and revenge in play, that may change.
predicted Score- Duke 88 NC 82