Wednesday, November 26, 2008

North Carolina-Duke Preview and Prediction


Duke vs North Carolina
Line: UNC -8

Saturday 3:30 PM


What is arguably the best rivalry in college basketball is also a pretty fierce one on the gridiron as well. Despite Duke's troubles in football, they have played North Carolina very tough the last few years including losing in OT last season. North Carolina is bowl eligible, but is out of the Coastal Division title race after losing to NC State last week. Duke will fall short of a bowl in David Cutcliffe's first year, but has shown vast improvement over previous years.


Keys to the Game:


1. Run Defense


Neither of these teams are very good at stopping the run allowing over 145 ypg on the ground. When UNC is at its best, they are able to run with Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston in tandem - see Ga Tech win. Last week, they had to pass so much because they were so far behind NC State. Duke has not run much this year and their leading rusher last week was backup QB Paul Asack. I wonder if Duke can exploit UNC's run defense this week.


2. QBs Back From Injury


TJ Yates returned from injury last week and did not have a great game against NC State. He was relieved by former starter Cam Sexton who played his worst game of the year. Duke is in a similar situation where Thaddeus Lewis will play this week, but it is not certain whether he will start. His backup, Asack threw 4 INT last week in the loss to Va Tech. Both teams need to have their QB settle in early and have a good game.


Prediction


Duke has covered in four of the last five meetings in this one furthering my point of how close the Blue Devils have been lately in this rivalry. North Carolina played very poorly last week as did Duke. If both play like that again, the pre season basketball magazine may provide some good entertainment in the 2nd half. UNC is the more talented of the two by a good margin, but I think Duke keeps it close with their defense. Take North Carolina on the money line, but take Duke on the points.


North Carolina 23 Duke 17

Duke Covers +8

Last Week: 1-3 ATS, 2-2 SU

Season: 29-21-2 ATS, 34-18 SU


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