College Basketball: #15 North Carolina Tar Heels at #4 Duke Blue Devils Prediction

north carolina duke college basketball picks

NCAA Basketball Betting Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels at Duke Blue Devils

Site: Cameron Indoor Stadium – Durham, NC

Date/Time: Wednesday, February 18 – 9 PM ET

TV: ESPN

NCAA Basketball Odds at Vietbet

Spread: Duke -8.5

Money Line: Duke -450, North Carolina +360

The North Carolina Tar Heels are well aware of the legacy left by their late, great former coach, Dean Smith. In fact, whenever they play at home they are reminded of it, since they are performing at the “Dean Dome.” On Wednesday night they will engage in another chapter of what is perhaps college basketball’s most storied rivalry for the first time since Smith’s passing, as they pay a visit to the Duke Blue Devils at the Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC. NCAA basketball betting action gets underway at 9 PM ET. And after the contest tips off, the wagers get started at Live Betting Extra, which is available to customers of Vietbet.

You can’t say the Tar Heels are coming into this game with a whole lot of momentum. In fact, they probably need something of a morale boost. It was absolutely back-breaking for them to blow an 18-point second-half lead against Louisville, losing by ten points despite holding the Cardinals to just 34% overall from the field. They obviously had an uphill battle against #2 Virginia, and lost that game at home. But their Saturday game against Pittsburgh was very winnable, or at least it seemed that way, but Roy Williams’ team put together an abysmal effort defensively, allowing the Panthers to shoot 65% (with 1.44 points per possession) in the 89-76 defeat.

That game was the sixth in the last seven where North Carolina has gone over the total in the NCAA basketball odds, and Vietbet patrons have not been getting much of a return from them, as they are on a 2-8-1 run against the pointspread. So they may be catching a few more points than usual from Duke.
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So what will North Carolina do to deal with freshman center Jahlil Okafor, who they have not yet seen and is shooting 66.5% on his way to averaging 18.2 points a game? Well, if anyone can utilize some muscle underneath, it is the Tar Heels, who lead the conference in rebounding and are also fourth in the nation in rebounding margin. One of the things Okafor has caught some criticism for is his defense, and UNC is also seventh in the country in offensive rebounds per game (15.1). One realistic objective for Williams (who coached under Smith for eleven years) is to try and get the ball to Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson in the paint as much as possible to get Okafor into foul trouble early. Obviously not much has worked against the young man who could wind up being the #1 choice in the next NBA Draft.

Vietbet customers know that Duke is aiming for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils (22-3 straight-up, 14-11 against the NCAA basketball odds) have won five games in a row, and this includes victories over nationally-ranked foes like Virginia and Notre Dame. They are fourth in the Associated Press Poll and fifth according to the USA Today coaches’ rankings. North Carolina (18-7 SU, 12-12 ATS) is 15th with the AP and 16th with the coaches.

It is imperative that the Heels get a better output from point guard Marcus Paige then he was able to produce on Saturday. Paige is perfectly capable of taking control here, but he has to get his shooting under control. He made only one of his seven attempts from three-point range against Pittsburgh. And he is just 40% on an overall basis from the floor.

In the Atlantic Coast Conference, it is important to get a top-four position in the standings, as it provides a bye through to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Duke and North Carolina are third and fourth, respectively, in the league pecking order.

Don’t forget that at Vietbet you can get reduced juice on all your NCAA basketball betting action AND make your deposits with Bitcoin, as well as major credit cards. And stick around for Live Betting Extra, where you can play props while the action is happening!

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Charles Jay

CHARLES JAY, a contributor to BangTheBook.com, is one of the most experienced sports betting writers in America, as he has written more than 10,000 pieces specifically for the industry over the last seven years. At one time employed as an editorial consultant with USA Network, he is also a former syndicated radio talk show host (American Radio Networks) and has also done color commentary on boxing events in the past for Prime Network (now known as Fox SportsNet). He is a veteran of more than a decade and a half working within the professional sports industry, and has been handicapping sporting events for over 25 years. In addition to this, he has compiled specialty odds for a number of online sportsbook operations and media outlets.

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