Duke vs North Carolina Prediction, Game Preview: NCAA Tournament Final Four

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Duke vs North Carolina Prediction, Game Preview: NCAA Tournament Final Four

College Football Predictions

Duke vs North Carolina Prediction, Game Preview: NCAA Tournament Final Four


Duke vs North Carolina prediction: NCAA Tournament Final Four pick and college basketball game preview.

Duke vs North Carolina Game Preview, How To Watch

Date: Saturday, April 2
Game Time: 8:49 pm
Venue: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA
How To Watch: TBS
Records: Duke (2 seed, 32-6)
North Carolina (8 seed, 28-9)

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Why North Carolina Will Win

Yeah, North Carolina was horribly underseeded – being a 6 would’ve been disrespectful, much less an 8 – but what’s it doing so right?

Not a whole lot has changed over the last month other than the threes are coming in bunches.

They might not have worked against Saint Peter’s, but they didn’t need to – hitting 6-of-22 was fine considering it was a light scrimmage after about five minutes.

The Tar Heels are doing everything right inside and out. They hit the Peacocks with 49 rebounds to be an incredible +46 in rebounding margin in the tournament.

Combine the dominance on the glass with hitting 34 threes in the first three games before the win over Saint Peter’s, and the offense is clicking.

But now North Carolina has to deal with a team that’s just as good on the boards, just as good at moving the ball around, and is playing with just as much confidence after going on a roll of its own.

But the pressure is still on the other side.

The Final Four is the Final Four – everyone is playing even now – but the other side is trying to keep the career of its head coach going. The team on the other side is a 2 seed.

The team on the other side hasn’t faced an offense in the NCAA Tournament that’s anything like the one that hit 49% from the field, shot 14 more free throws, and won 94-81 to ruin Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game.

However …

Why Duke Will Win

Duke grew up fast.

No, it hasn’t faced a team with the overall offensive firepower and versatility of North Carolina, but it’s battled-hardened after dealing with Michigan State, Texas Tech, and Arkansas and the defensive pressure they brought – at least the last two did.

The Blue Devils are forcing the action by getting to the free throw line over and over again, they’re doing a decent job on the outside, and they’re moving the ball around well enough and scoring way too easily.

How good has Duke been offensively? Against these incredible defensive teams, it’s shooting close to 55% from the field in the tournament including an incredible display over the final seven minutes against Texas Tech.

North Carolina’s offense has been high-octane and incredible from all sides, but it’s not shooting as well as Duke is.

It was okay against UCLA, okay against Saint Peter’s, and solid against Marquette – it hasn’t been hitting 50%, though.

The young Blue Devils now know they can come though in tight games, they’re clutch on the free throw line after sputtering at times late in the regular season, and the defense is locking in tight from three.

But again …

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Duke vs North Carolina: What’s Going To Happen

It all comes down to making shots, and Duke does that better.

Yeah, Duke got whacked in the last meeting with North Carolina, but it still shot 49% from the field. It’s been forgotten that the Blue Devils hit 58% of its shots in the first meeting in an 87-67 win.

Duke has hit 50% or more of its shots in 18 games, in each of the last four, and in eight of the last 12 games. North Carolina is 0-6 when allowing teams to make 51% or more of their shots, and they’re 10-9 when teams make 44% or more.

The Tar Heels are 18-0 when allowing teams to shot under 44%. Duke has been held under 44% just six times.

This will be a heavyweight fight that will more than live up to any and all hype and billing. Duke will be relentless with its shooting – and on the free throw line – coming through in the final 90 seconds to survive a classic.

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Duke vs North Carolina Prediction: NCAA Tournament Final Four, Lines

Prediction: Duke 82, North Carolina 77
Line: Duke -4.5, o/u: 151
ATS Confidence out of 5: 1.5

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