NC Duke CBB Pick

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North Carolina

at

Duke

College Basketball

Pick

2/20/19

The first thought when looking at this Game may be that the spread is big considering it’s Duke and North Carolina. Both are top-10 teams, but the Blue Devils stand out for being elite on both ends of the floor, third in the country in offensive efficiency and Fourth in defensive. They’ve had a couple close calls, but still only have two losses and already swept Virginia. 

The Tar Heels have the most efficient offense in ACC play, but their defense is also mediocre and they’ve already had a couple tough results from losing by 21 points to Louisville, to losing late against Virginia. To win this Game on the road, it’s going to take something else and their iffy defense that gives up too many easy buckets isn’t a good stat against Duke.

There is at least some hope for UNC since it has the players to compete. There’s a chance Garrison Brooks, Cameron Johnson and Nassir Little can somewhat physically stay with Duke’s freshmen. Brooks and Johnson have the size to deal with Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish, but the biggest question will be how UNC stops R.J. Barrett. As Duke’s shooting guard, not many teams have a player that matches up well with Barrett, but if Little plays with Brooks and Johnson, that could in turn allow UNC to switch on all three of those guys. Otherwise, making Kenny Williams try to stop Barrett may be a little difficult. Duke doesn’t often have matchups like this, but when Louisville put a little extra size on the cOurt, that made things a little difficult for the Blue Devils. There’s a chance Brooks, Johnson and Little can do that, as well.

The problem for the Heels is that LUke Maye usually struggles against more athletic teams and whether it’s Marques Bolden or Williamson guarding him, this isn’t a great matchup. And if he’s ever forced to guard Williamson, that likely won’t end well, either. The other thing is that Coby White has to keep up his stout play, averaging 20 points over the last Four Games. Tre Jones has been one of the best defensive guards in the ACC, though maybe hasn’t seen someone like White this season. White can be erratic at times, but he’s also quick and has steadily improved his outside shot. The other part is that both are being projected near the same spot in the upcoming NBA Draft so those two have something else to play for in this matchup. If Jones can limit White, that’ll force Johnson, Brooks and Maye into a little more action than UNC wants.

It’s rarely a good idea to bet against Barrett, Williamson and Reddish when all of them can easily Score20 points in any given Game. It also doesn’t help that Reddish has scored above his 13.8 ppg in Four of the last five Games. If the Blue Devils come out firing from the start, that won’t the upset bid, but there’s a chance UNC keeps this competitive. With a bit more experience and the size to deal with Duke’s freshmen, the Tar Heels just need a little more from Maye and White and this could come down to the final few minutes.

Our Pick – Duke -8.5