Friday, March 7, 2008

North Carolina Duke Preview

North Carolina @ Duke Sat
This is the best rivalry in all of college basketball. Two schools that rank in the top 5 for tradition all time separated by just 8 miles yet worlds apart. The first time these two met this season North Carolina was without their PG Ty Lawson. The sophomore returned last week and has been able to improve each game since comning back. Last time out Duke was on fire from 3 point range with the unlikely hero Greg Paulus leading the way.
Lets get to the keys to the game:
1. Can North Carolina break Duke's pressure?
In Duke's two losses they have not been able to apply the pressure they want in the backcout. The speed of Ty Lawson wil make it difficult for Duke to set up their pressure. If the Tar Heels can break the pressure, they hold the advantage in 1 on 1 and 3 on 3 situations because of their talent advantage from player to player. The Blue Devils especially like to pour it on early and make their opponents play from behind so breaking pressure will be especially important early.
2. Who will win the FT battle?
Both of these teams make a living at the FT line. They rank 1 and 2 in FT attempted on the year in the ACC. Duke has always sought to drive the ball to the basket where they can pick up fouls on the opposition. Tyler Hansbrough is almost unstoppable in the paint because he gets to the line so much.
3. Bench Play
Duke does not have the deepest or the biggest players on their bench. If they get into a rat race early you have to wonder about their legs late in the game. Also, with Hansbrough's inside play the Blue Devils will need bodies to rotate in case of foul trouble. For North Carolina they have to take advantage of their depth and get significant contributions from players like Danny Greene.

I think this one will be another classic in this series. I think North Carolina is playing at about the same level they were in the first meeting, but Duke has regressed a bit since early February. I like the way Lawson has progressed since coming back from injury and I do not think Duke is good enough to sweep North Carolina.
Prediction: North Carolina

Duke North Carolina Line Spread
The money line and point spread will be interesting on this one. Duke is rarely a home underdog, but the Tar Heels who ranked #1 in the country. I think Duke might be an ever so slight favorite at -110 if they even offer a line. The point spread will be +/- 2 points either way. Watch how the line progresses on Saturday. If it looks like heavy action is being placed on one team, then go the other way.

Season: 66-20 (77%)
ACC: 34-12 (74%)

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