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No. 14 UNC goes for sweep at No. 4 Duke Saturday
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 3/8/2014  at  6:47:00 AM
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NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (23-7)

at DUKE BLUE DEVILS (23-7)

Cameron Indoor Stadium - Durham, NC
Tip-off: Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Duke -7.5, Total: 147.5

Following a disappointing loss as a double-digit favorite to Wake Forest, No. 4 Duke faces a tough test in its season finale when it hosts rival No. 14 North Carolina, which has now won 12 games in a row.

During the Tar Heels' win streak, they have gone 9-3 ATS, but those three ATS defeats have come in the past three games, where they have beaten teams by a combined seven points despite being favored by 26 points in those three contests. Overall, they are 16-14 ATS this season and 4-6 ATS on the road. With the loss to 12.5-point underdog Wake Forest on Wednesday, Duke is now 2-4 ATS in its past six contests, hitting a funk after a seven-game ATS winning streak. The Blue Devils are still an impressive 18-12 ATS overall (60%) and 10-6 ATS at home, with a 10-7 ATS mark against ACC opponents. After the first meeting was postponed eight days due to snow, North Carolina beat Duke on Feb. 20 by a 74-66 score as a 2.5-point underdog. They held the Blue Devils—one of the best three-point shooting teams in the nation—to 5-of-22 from beyond the arc (22.7%) and killed them on the glass 43-30. Despite that loss, Duke still owns a 7-3 SU advantage (5-5 ATS) in the past 10 meetings of this series, but Carolina is 7-1 ATS (5-3 SU) in its past eight visits to Durham.

Can North Carolina complete the sweep of rival Duke on Saturday? 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 stellar 59% ATS (250-173-13) mark, including a hefty 61% ATS (218-139-7) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is on an amazing Best Bets run of 26-4-2 (87% ATS) since Jan. 17, is at 74% ATS (51-18-2) since Nov. 26 and a robust 70% ATS (58-25-3) in Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave is 67% ATS (37-18) since in Best Bets Dec. 18 and 62% ATS (54-33-1) this season, while StatFox Scott is 64% ATS (9-5-1) since Feb. 16 and 57% ATS (49-37-3) for the season. StatFox Gary is 59% ATS (43-30) on Best Bets since Nov. 22 and 55% ATS (47-38-2) for the season.

Here is the Bet DSI breakdown for the key Top 25 games this week:

North Carolina puts up solid offensive numbers with 76.2 PPG (57th in Div. I) on 46.1% shooting (79th in Div. I). The Heels have an unselfish 15.8 APG (21st in Div. I), but shoot the ball terribly from three-point range (33.6%) and from the foul line (62.1%, 5th-worst in Div. I). They help make up for that with second-chance opportunities, averaging 40.6 RPG (8th in Div. I). Defensively, they limit opponents to 67.9 PPG (116th in nation) on a low 40.5% shooting clip. Their top scorer is G Marcus Paige (16.9 PPG, 4.5 APG), who is a good three-point shooter (39.1%) and foul shooter (88.0%) on a team that lacks those assets. After a quiet first half against Duke, he led the team’s second-half rally to finish with 13 points and four assists. He got loads of help from SG Leslie McDonald (10.7 PPG), who had arguably his best game of the season that night with 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Down low, PF James Michael McAdoo (14.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG) put up a quiet double-double that game with 10 points and 10 rebounds. But even when he’s not at his best, he has a strong crew of supporters in the frontcourt like C Brice Johnson (10.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG), SF J.P. Tokoto (9.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG) and PF Kennedy Meeks (7.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG), who all average at least five boards per contest.

Duke has one of the most efficient offenses in the nation with 79.3 PPG (25th in Div. I) on 46.4% shooting (69th in Div. I). Despite their poor shooting effort against the Tar Heels and Thursday against the Demon Deacons (42.9% FG and 22.2% threes), the Blue Devils rank fifth in the country from long range, making 40.1% of their threes. Defensively, Duke gives up 66.6 PPG (85th in Div. I) on 44.6% shooting, notably holding opponents to a stingy 30.6% clip from beyond the arc. Freshman and ACC Player of the Year candidate PF Jabari Parker (18.8 PPG, 9.0 RPG) is the star on offense, now having posted double-doubles in five consecutive games. That includes a 17-point, 11-rebound effort against the Tar Heels. He has a solid teammate in SF Rodney Hood (16.3 PPG), who head coach Mike Krzyzewski can use to break zones, as the redshirt sophomore hits 42.5% of his threes. He dropped 16 against UNC, while PG Quinn Cook (11.6 PPG, 4.4 APG) was the only other Blue Devils player to reach double-digits, scoring 17 points. Cook and Hood were the only Duke players to make three-pointers in that loss, going a combined 5-for-13, while SGs Rasheed Sulaimon (9.5 PPG, 2.7 APG) and Andre Dawkins (8.4 PPG) went a combined 0-for-7. Dawkins and Sulaimon are typically strong shooters, both making better than 42% threes on the season. The other key factors for Duke will be PF Amile Jefferson (6.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG) and C Marshall Plumlee (1.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG), who need to have big games to combat the Tar Heels’ prowess on the glass.

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