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College Basketball: First Half Key to UNC – Duke Game

Written by:
Carrie Stroup
Published on:
Feb/11/2009

The first half of UNC and Duke's hoops clash tonight could be the key in more ways than one. 

The halftime leader has gone on to win the game and cover the spread the last three meetings. The first half is also the focus of Sportsbook.com's UNC-Duke First Half Clash - Money Back Special.

The First Half Clash for this monster matchup ESPN 9 pm ET telecast is as follows: Place a 1st Half wager on tonight's North Carolina @ Duke basketball game. If you lose your wager due to the last score of the 1st Half, your losing wager will be refunded up to $50.00.

This is the biggest regular season game of the year and you'll want to cash-in at Sportsbook.com. UNC is slight two-point road chalk and they are listed as a half-point favorite for the first half.

North Carolina (21-2) is the number three rated team in the country and they have rebounded nicely after shocking losses in their first two ACC games to Boston College and Wake Forest.

The Heels lost their number one ranking in the process but have reeled off seven-straight wins, although bettors aren't overly impressed with their 3-4 ATS mark in that span. However, a lot of those failures to cover have to do with being 15+ point favorites, which will obviously not be a factor here.

The Tar Heels have been hurt by some depth issues with guard Marcus Ginyard out for the year with an injury and reserve swingman Will Graves suspended for the year. Freshman center Tyler Zeller also isn't close to returning from his broken wrist.

That leaves UNC with pretty much a seven-man rotation and they can't afford an injury to anyone in the starting five.

Fifth-ranked Duke (20-3) occupied the #1 ranking a couple of weeks ago but road losses to Wake Forest and Clemson dropped them down. The loss at Clemson was particularly distasteful as they got blown out by 27 points.

The Blue Devils then followed up that game with a home contest against Miami, and they needed overtime to survive despite being 14-point favorites. That puts them at just 3-6-1 ATS in their last 10 games.

The big change for Duke is that senior point guard Greg Paulus is back in the starting lineup replacing Nolan Smith. Paulus was inserted after the Clemson debacle and he will get the nod against the Heels. But while his veteran leadership is important, he will have trouble guarding Ty Lawson on the other end.

The other matchup problem for Duke is down low where Tyler Hansbrough and Deon Thompson can outmuscle Duke's undersized ‘bigs'. It will be interesting to see if little used center Brian Zoubek gets more time from Coach K.

Looking at the recent history of this matchup, the underdog is an incredible 12-3 ATS in the last 15 meetings. North Carolina has also covered five of the last six, although Duke prevailed last year at home, 89-78 as 4 ½-point dogs.

Will Duke be able to win as dogs at Cameron Indoor Stadium again?

Bet on it at Sportsbook.com.

Carrie Stroup, Gambling911.com Senior Reporter

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