Duke-North Carolina Line at Tar Heels -1

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Duke-North Carolina

The Duke-North Carolina line was sitting at Tar Heels -1 as of early afternoon Saturday.  This game goes off at 8 pm ET.   Action is pretty balanced in this heavily wagered on game at Sportsbook.com

In 2011, Duke versus North Carolina on March 5, playing for the ACC regular-season title is sort of like falling from a tall tree, bumping your head, and waking up on the ground an hour later. You may know where you are, but you don’t quite remember how you got there. Back on December 18, after a two-point loss to Texas dropped the unranked Tar Heels to 7-4, with the team’s prized freshman Harrison Barnes, shooting less than 36% from the field, North Carolina seemed miles apart and light years behind its nearby rival from Durham. Duke was a perfect 10-0 en route to a 15-0 start, and though they had lost the electrifying Kyrie Irving to a foot injury, senior Nolan Smith simply elevated his game and kept it elevated. The Blue Devils were looking borderline untouchable in an ACC conference that was much weaker than in past years. How did the Heels stay in the hunt? By being the tortoise to Duke’s hare. Slowly and steadily, the Tar Heels kept knocking off league opponents one by one, maturing along the way. Carried by the consistent play on the interior of Tyler Zeller and John Henson, and steadying new leadership at the point from Kendall Marshall, Barnes found time to catch his breath and allow the game to come to him. Now the frosh is showing the talents that made him a Preseason AP All-American pick, while the Heels are looking more like the team that was a Preseason Top-10 choice in the polls. The long and winding road that is the college basketball regular season has reached its destination. Now we get treated to a year-end party. Duke versus North Carolina for the ACC regular-season crown.

If there was a particular turning point that the 13th-ranked Tar Heels (23-6, 13-2 in ACC) found themselves, it probably starts on January 29. That is when Barnes scored a career-high 25 points (10-of-16 FG) to break out of a slump in a 20-point win over N.C. State. The next game, Barnes surpassed that mark with 26 points in a 32-point blowout win at Boston College on February 1. Later that week, junior guard Larry Drew II, who had been benched from his starting job about two weeks prior, abruptly left the program. What could have been a tumultuous moment was quickly defused by the freshman Marshall, who in the first game following Drew’s absence dished out 16 assists, the most by any Tar Heel player in an ACC conference game. UNC defeated Florida State 89-69, and was off to the races. Since that win, the only team that has defeated North Carolina are the Blue Devils, 79-73 on February 9. Saturday night, it’s payback time. In the Heels’ most recent game, the rematch against Florida State on Wednesday night, Barnes displayed even more evidence that he is a freshman in name only, as his three-pointer from the top of the key with 0:03 remaining lifted Carolina to the 72-70 victory. "I've always been comfortable taking the last-second shot," said the soft-spoken Barnes "I'm glad Coach gave me the opportunity and I came through."

In the February 9 defeat of Carolina, No. 4 Duke (27-3, 13-2) trailed the Heels by 14 points at halftime, before a torrid, 50-point second half turned the game in the favor of the host Blue Devils. Nolan Smith scored 22 of his career-high 34 points in the second half, and received some major help from Seth Curry, who scored a season-high 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting. The 14-point deficit at the half was the largest intermission deficit that Duke had faced against UNC since the ‘97-98 season. The resilience showed that the Blue Devils can play from ahead, and behind, with equal levels of excellence. Tyler Zeller scored 24 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for the Heels, while Henson added 14 and 12. Barnes only scored nine points, while fellow frosh Marshall had nine with six assists. Now that these underclassmen have a regular season under their belt, as well as one Duke-UNC game on the resume, its time to see how much they have learned this first year in college, and if they are ready to leave their mark on college basketball’s top rivalry.

UNC is only 14-12 ATS overall, but it is 9-3 ATS in its past 12 games. The Tar Heels are 9-6 in ACC play and 6-6 ATS at home this year. Duke is 16-13 ATS overall and 7-3 ATS on the road, but the Blue Devils are a subpar 7-8 ATS in conference action. In terms of head-to-head, these teams have alternated wins and losses over the past nine meetings in Chapel Hill with Duke going 5-4 SU and ATS. These schools are evenly matched, but the Tar Heels have the edge on the glass. North Carolina leads the nation with 42.7 rebounds per game and has posted an impressive 12.0 RPG margin in the past five contests. The Blue Devils rank 25th in the nation with 38.5 RPG, but carry a meager +1.4 RPG margin in their past seven games.

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