NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (16-7)
at DUKE BLUE DEVILS (21-2)
Cameron Indoor Stadium Ė Durham, NC
Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Duke -11, Total: 153
In search of a marquee win to turn its season around, North Carolina will travel just a few miles to take on No. 2 Duke in the first edition of this seasonís Tobacco Road rivalry.
The Tar Heels have talent, but have been frustratingly inconsistent this year, already dropping four games in ACC play (6-4 SU, 5-5 ATS). Their fast-paced offense ranks in the top-10 nationally in points (78.3 PPG, ninth in D-I), rebounds (41.7 RPG, fifth in nation) and assists (18.0 APG, second in D-I). Duke struggled for a bit during ACC play after losing senior forward Ryan Kelly, but has since found a groove, winning five in a row (3-2 ATS). The Blue Devils also have a high-octane offense averaging 78.2 PPG, which ranks 11th in the nation. Although Duke rarely loses at home, covering the spread at Cameron Indoor Stadium has also been no problem for the Tar Heels, who are 12-3 ATS in their past 15 trips to Durham.
Can Duke cover the large spread against its rival on Wednesday night? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts have been red-hot in college basketball Best Bets, as StatFox Scott is 7-3 ATS (70%) since Friday, while StatFox Gary is 9-5-1 ATS (64%) in the past nine days, improving to an impressive 56.4% ATS (79-61-2) Best Bets mark for the season. StatFox Dave is 28-23-1 ATS (55%) since Jan. 28 to boost his season win percentage to a profitable 53% ATS (127-113-4).
These rivals split their two meetings last year with the Tar Heels handing Duke an 18-point loss at Cameron. The Tar Heels will miss a key cog in their frontcourt Joel James (concussion), placing even more of a burden on PF James Michael McAdoo (14.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG) who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. McAdoo scored just six points in the teamís loss to Miami on Sunday, but had two 20-point efforts prior to that. He may have to expend a lot of his energy on the defensive end, however, trying to guard Duke superstar PF Mason Plumlee. Carolina G Reggie Bullock (14.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG) is second on North Carolina in scoring, averaging 18.5 PPG on 12-of-20 FG in the teamís past two games. At 6-foot-7, the swingman has the potential to give the Duke backcourt fits, where nobody stands taller than 6-foot-4. Last season in Durham, Bullock was one of five double-digit scorers for the Tar Heels, with the other four now in the NBA. Super sub SG P.J. Hairston (12.3 PPG) rounds out Williamsí double-digit scorers, hitting 2.3 threes per game and averaging 14.0 PPG during a five-game streak of 11+ points. Guards Dexter Strickland (7.4 PPG, 4.0 APG) and Marcus Paige (7.1 PPG, 4.5 APG) donít score as much as those guys, but take good care of the ball and are key to pushing the tempo.
Mason Plumlee (18.2 PPG, 10.7 RPG) has now found his groove without Kelly and has two 30-point efforts in the teamís last four times out. Heís hitting an incredible 61.0% FG this year, also recording 1.7 BPG and 1.0 SPG on the defensive end. He had one of his best games of last season at home against North Carolina with 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting. SG Seth Curry (16.8 PPG) will need to improve on his performance from last yearís home tilt versus UNC when he went just 3-for-13 from the field. But Curry has been on a scoring binge in the past four games (21.5 PPG) and is now hitting 2.6 threes per game on a 41.9% clip. His backcourt mates Rasheed Sulaimon (11.4 PPG) and Quinn Cook (11.8 PPG, 6.0 APG) are also hitting at higher than 40% from downtown. Cook in particular is important for the teamís success, pushing the pace of the Duke offense (2.71 Ast/TO ratio) and needing to slow down the ball movement of Paige and Strickland. Cook has come into his own as a defender this year too, tallying 1.6 SPG.