DUKE BLUE DEVILS (19-5)
at NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (16-7)
Dean E. Smith Center - Chapel Hill, NC
Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Duke -2, Total: 151.5
North Carolina has gotten its act together with a five-game winning streak against weaker opponents and will be tested for real on Wednesday night as No. 8 Duke visits nearby Chapel Hill for a meeting in one of basketballís best rivalries.
The Tar Heels (12-11 ATS overall) began ACC play brutally, losing four of their first five contests (0-5 ATS), including two to poor teams in Wake Forest and Miami. Since then, they have gone 5-0 (SU and ATS) to improve their conference mark to 5-5 ATS. Carolina is 2-2 (SU and ATS) as an underdog this season, winning SU and ATS against Louisville and at Michigan State, but losing at Syracuse and Virginia. The club is 7-7 ATS (11-3 SU) at home. The Blue Devils (16-8 ATS overall) had a similarly rocky start to conference play, dropping their first two ACC road games to Clemson and Notre Dame. Since then though, they have gone 7-1 (SU and ATS), with the lone SU loss coming at undefeated Syracuse. Duke is 8-3 (SU and ATS) in the ACC and 4-2 ATS on the road. The Blue Devils are also 10-1 ATS after at least one consecutive Over this season, but the Tar Heels are 19-8 ATS over the past three seasons in home games against winning teams, outscoring these visitors by 11.8 PPG. Duke swept both meetings SU last season and covered easily at the Dean Dome in a 69-53 victory. That makes the Blue Devils a commanding 7-2 SU (5-4 SU) in this series since 2010.
Which school will win the first meeting of this classic rivalry? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 58% ATS (200-144-11) mark, including a hefty 60% ATS (168-110-6) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 65% ATS (45-24-2) in Best Bets for the season and 69% ATS (38-17-1) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 60% ATS (42-28-1) for the season and 66% ATS (25-13) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Scott is a strong 57% ATS (39-30-2) for the season and 58% ATS (29-21-2) since Dec. 2. StatFox Zach is a solid 55% ATS (37-30-4) on Best Bets this season, including 57% ATS (31-23-3) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Gary is 54% ATS (37-32-2) for the season, and 57% ATS (31-23) since Nov. 29.
Dukeís offense is one of the most efficient in the nation, averaging 82.2 PPG (16th in Div. I) on 47.5% shooting (36th in nation) with 15.6 APG (29th in Div. I). The Blue Devils lead the country in three-point shooting (42.0%) and hits a strong 73.9% free throws. Even though their 35.0 RPG isnít particularly strong (183rd in Div. I), their 10.0 offensive RPG is respectable. Defensively, they yield 67.4 PPG (97th in nation) on 45.1% shooting and 31.2% threes. Freshman PF Jabari Parker (19.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG) heads their scoring efforts and leads the team on the glass, and is coming off a monster 29-point, 16-rebound game against Boston College on Saturday. He has now exceeded 20 points in three of his past four contests, averaging 21.5 PPG and 11.0 RPG during this stretch. The teamís second-leading scorer, SF Rodney Hood (16.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG) is also new to the rivalry, and he enters this game amid a two-game funk in which he has failed to break double-digits (8.5 PPG on 6-of-19 FG). Still, he has been a lethal shooter all season, making 45% of his threes. SGs Andre Dawkins (9.5 PPG) and Rasheed Sulaimon (9.1 PPG) are also outstanding long-range shooters, as they each make more than 47% of their three-point attempts. Sulaimon had 13 points and five assists in the home win over Carolina, but managed just one point in 15 minutes in the victory in Chapel Hill. PG Quinn Cook (12.3 PPG, 5.2 APG) rounds out their double-digit scorers, snapping a scoring funk with a 21-point effort against Boston College on Saturday. Cook also played very well in last season's sweep of UNC with 15.0 PPG (11-of-24 FG), 5.0 RPG and 3.5 APG. The other key factor for this team is PF Amile Jefferson (7.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG), who puts up fantastic numbers down low considering he plays only 20.8 MPG.
Unlike Duke, North Carolina isnít very scary on the offensive end, averaging 75.8 PPG (69th in Div. I) on 45.6% shooting (110th in nation), but the club does dish out 15.7 APG (25th in Div. I). The Heels make a subpar 31.8% of their threes and a miserable 62.4% of their free throws (7th-worst in nation). But on the defensive end, they hold opponents to 67.5 PPG (99th in Div. I) on 39.5% FG (24th in nation) and 30.9% threes while racking up 7.8 SPG (37th in Div. I) and 5.1 BPG (41st in nation). The team's main strength is rebounding, as it dominates the glass with 41.1 RPG (9th in Div. I) and a +5.8 RPG margin. PF James Michael McAdoo (15.0 RPG, 6.8 RPG) is their primary post player and is an effective scorer with 16 straight double-figure scoring efforts, but struggles at the line, making just 53.4% of his 8.3 FT attempts per game. In last season's series with Duke, he averaged a pedestrian 12.0 PPG and 5.5 RPG, pulling down only three boards in 34 minutes in the home loss. McAdoo has plenty of help on the glass with C Brice Johnson (10.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG), SF J.P. Tokoto (9.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG) and PF Kennedy Meeks (7.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG) all adding at least five boards per contest. G Marcus Paige (17.0 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.5 RPG) is UNC's top scorer and passer and despite being a natural point guard, has played off the ball this season to help give the team more perimeter scoring, netting 18.0 PPG (12-of-27 threes) during a current five-game streak of scoring 15+ points. Heís the teamís only big three-point threat, making 2.2 per game on a solid 37% clip, though he struggled mightily last season against Duke, going a combined 3-for-15 FG with eight points, seven assists and six turnovers in the two defeats. Senior SG Leslie McDonald (10.9 PPG) rounds out the teamís double-digit scorers, though he is making only 38% FG and 31% threes this season, which he started late due to NCAA violation concerns.