The day the Blue Devil faithful has been waiting for has finally arrived. Duke hosts North Carolina in its first Tobacco Road Rivalry matchup of the Jon Scheyer era Saturday night. Whether you're rooting for the darker or lighter shade of blue, the Blue Zone has you ready with our can't-miss prop bets:
Duke (-3) vs. North Carolina
After three weeks of anticipation and tenting, the greatest rivalry in college sports starts a new chapter Saturday, as Duke welcomes archenemy North Carolina to Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils enter the contest after a solid win at home against Wake Forest Tuesday.
North Carolina travels the Tobacco Road after a one-point loss to Pittsburgh at home. Although the Tar Heels went from the AP Poll's preseason No. 1 to unranked, making them the sixth team since at least the 1961-62 season to do so, the squad still has the talent to wreak havoc. Led by forward Armando Bacot down low, the 6-foot-11 senior averages 17.7 points and 11.4 rebounds a game. North Carolina's powerful offense also features guards Caleb Love and R.J. Davis and forward Pete Nance, who each average 11 or more points per game.
In a battle of two teams that have had their fair share of trials, the game may prove a signature win for whichever program comes out on top. Both teams struggle against the spread, with Duke 1-4 in its last five games and North Carolina 2-8 in its last 10 on the road. This game feels like a coin flip, especially considering 86 of the 258 Duke-UNC contests were decided within five points. Ultimately, the home-court advantage for the Blue Devils pushes them over the top and may be what starts the bench burning on West Campus.
Pick: Duke -3
Over/Under 144.5 points
While bitter rivals, Duke and North Carolina do share one commonality: The teams struggle on defense. The Blue Devils’ defensive rating sits at 99.1 points per 100 possessions, which is the 104th-ranked rate nationally. The Tar Heels fare slightly worse, allowing 100.3 points per 100 possessions at 142nd nationally. In recent history, the rivalry has produced high-scoring affairs, as the teams have hit the total-point over in their last seven matchups, spanning back to February 2020. With Duke stars Jeremy Roach and Kyle Filipowski matched up against the North Carolina tandem Bacot and Love, the name of the game could be the that the first team to 75 points wins.
Pick: Over 144.5 points
Jeremy Roach over/under 13 points
After a three-game absence due to a reaggravated toe injury, Roach has had an up and down first few games back. He returned to the floor against Miami and scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field. He then struggled against Virginia Tech and only scored six points on a 33.3% field goal mark. The junior captain then showed steady improvement in his next contest against Georgia Tech, scoring 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field. Finally, Roach delivered his statement return performance, defeating the Wake Forest defense for 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Entering the clash, expect the Duke offense to lean on Roach’s shot-creating ability. In last year’s edition of the rivalry at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Roach scored 15 points on near-perfect 5-of-6 shooting. Expect a similar performance in a situation in which the 6-foot-2 guard will knows how to handle the pressure.
Pick: Over 13 points
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