Duke should have the same record as North Carolina, tied atop the ACC Coastal division, but… they do not. Their result against Miami (FL) will never change despite poor refereeing and life moves on. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, they have to travel to rival UNC this weekend, who is playing well. The Tar Heels are an -8 point favorite (at 5 Dimes Sportsbook).
A win for Duke against the Hurricanes was important for a number of reasons, most notably remaining undefeated in Conference play. Now, after losing, the Dukies have to travel in three of their final Four Games of the season with two of those coming against the other top teams in the division: UNC and Pittsburgh.
As for the Tar Heels, that result couldn’t have gone better for them as they now have the sole lead of the Coastal with a chance to extend that after winning at Pitt last weekend. OUtside of a bad performance in the opener against South Carolina, the Heels have looked solid with seven straight wins.
UNC had been dominating this matchup, but since Duke’s improvement in recent years, the Blue Devils have won two of the last three. However, UNC took last year’s Game on the road, 45-20 as a 5-point underdog.
The door will be open for a similar result here. Duke’s defense has slipped in recent weeks against Virginia Tech and Miami, and UNC has one of the best offenses in the ACC. Quarterback Marquise Williams is at the head of that. While his passing numbers don’t look amazing with 11 TDs and 7 INTs, he is still completing 9.02 yards per attempt. The ground Game has been the biggest catalyst for this offense led by Elijah Hood, who has 744 yards and 8 TDs. Williams is having a great season on the ground as well with 528 yards and five touchdowns.
Duke could once again have trouble against this offense after giving up 592 yards in this matchup last year. On the other end, Duke may not have the firepower to keep up. Not to mention the Tar Heels have been playing stout defense for most of the year.
A lot will be asked of quarterback Thomas Sirk in this Game, who struggled a bit against Miami. However, he hasn’t thrown an interception in Four Games, so at least that’s a positive. Sirk has 12 TDs and 3 INTs on the year, while also being the team’s leading rusher with 481 yards and three more TDs. No one in the backfield has really gotten it going and the committee doesn’t seem to be working. Shaq Powell leads the RBs with 351 yards, but hasn’t surpassed 34 yards in Four straight.
Coming off a devastating loss, it would be surprising if this Duke defense came out and held Marquise Williams and company in check. That loss was a blow to the team and shot their ACC title hopes. Now, they have to come back and play in Chapel Hill against a team that has won seven straight.
The underdog has covered in Four of the last five meetings between these schools. The Blue Devils have covered in six straight road Games and are 8-1 ATS in their last nine following an ATS loss. Surprisingly, the under is 7-1 in the Tar Heels’ last eight Games following an ATS win. Both teams are 5-3 ATS on the year.
Our Pick – This is an interesting Game in that, these two have looked pretty good for most of the year yet have been exposed a bit when they stepped up in class. For Duke, that would be giving up 43 points to Virginia Tech and for NC, giving up 31 to Georgia Tech.
Coming off the Miami Fla debacle as well as a revenge motive for last years result, we think Duke is the way to go in this one. Look for the Blue Devils to keep this one close with an upset not completely off the table. Duke +8