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NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (18-7) at DUKE BLUE DEVILS (22-3)
No. 15 North Carolina is coming off of an 89-76 defeat as a 3.5-point favorite in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Tar Heels have now lost three of their past four games SU and ATS and their defense has been putrid. The team has allowed its opponent to shoot 44percent or better from the field in three straight games and that will not cut it against No. 4 Dukes high-powered offense. The Blue Devils have been hot as of late, beating Syracuse 80-72 as 7.5-point favorites for their fifth straight victory and eighth in their past nine games. Dukes offense has been remarkable recently, shooting 45percent or better from the field in nine straight games. This is the first meeting between these two rivals this season. A year ago, both teams won-and-covered when playing at home and the Blue Devils have done rather well at Cameron Indoor Stadium in this series in recent years. Duke has won two straight games and four of its past five when hosting North Carolina, but theyve only covered in two of those five games and just three of their past 10 at home as well. The Tar Heels have not done well as an underdog this season, going 0-3 both SU and ATS. Theyre also a lousy 3-8-1 ATS when playing against ACC opponents. One thing that does bode well for them is that they are 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS when coming off of a SU loss. The Blue Devils are 11-1 SU as a home favorite this season, but just 6-6 ATS in those games. They havent been great against the ACC either, going 9-3 SU but just 6-6 ATS. Fs Desmond Hubert (Knee) and Sasha Seymore (Knee) are both out for the season for the Tar Heels and Gs Joel Berry II (Groin), Stillman White (Foot) and Theo Pinson (Foot) are all out indefinitely. The Blue Devils are not currently dealing with any injuries.
North Carolina has struggled recently, but the team is still equally as dangerous as it was before and will have to turn things around because it is too good not to. The Tar Heels boast one of the best offenses in the nation, scoring 78.7 PPG (17th in NCAA) on 47.0percent shooting (37th in NCAA). This team moves the ball better than any other team, averaging 17.6 APG (1st in NCAA). It is also a force on the glass, grabbing 42.3 RPG (2nd in NCAA). The defensive end is where this team really struggles, as the Tar Heels are giving up 68.3 PPG (230th in NCAA). The key to this game will be the play of both G Marcus Paige (13.9 PPG, 4.2 APG, 1.4 SPG) and F Kennedy Meeks (12.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.2 BPG). Paige is the guy that runs this offense and hell be going up against a very talented Duke backcourt. Paige struggled in a loss at Pittsburgh, finishing with just eight points (3-for-11 FG, 1-for-7 3PT) in 32 minutes. He has played well in Durham in the past though, finishing with 24 points in last years loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Hell need to bring that type of firepower into this one. Meeks on the other hand will just need to hold his own against C Jahlil Okafor (18.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.5 BPG). He has struggled on the glass lately, averaging just 2.5 RPG over his past two games and hes played just 15.5 MPG in those contests. Hell need to get back to being his sturdy presence in the post and use his strength to body up Okafor on the defensive end. While Meeks has struggled, F Brice Johnson (12.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.0 BPG) has really come on strong for Roy Williams team. Over the past two games, Johnson is averaging 19.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG. He is a very good rebounder and if he is scoring for this team on Wednesday then it should have a really good chance of pulling off a road upset. F J.P. Tokoto (8.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 4.0 APG) is an extremely versatile player for this North Carolina squad. Hes struggled offensively recently with just one double-digit scoring game in his past seven contests, but hes capable of helping the team in other ways. Hell need to bring some intensity on defense in this game.
Duke has been hot lately and its efficient offense is the reason the team has been so good this season. The Blue Devils are averaging an absurd 80.3 PPG (8th in NCAA) on 49.7percent shooting (6th in NCAA). The team moves the ball well with 15.4 APG (29th in NCAA) and is also a solid rebounding unit, averaging 37.9 RPG (35th NCAA). Defensively this team isnt great, allowing 64.9 PPG (137th in NCAA) but that isnt as much of a problem when it is scoring as much as it usually does. C Jahlil Okafor is the go-to-guy for this dominant offense. Okafor had 23 points (10-for-15 FG), 13 rebounds and a block against Syracuses 2-3 zone on Saturday. Hes been on a tear in his past three games, missing just seven of his 31 shot attempts. Okafors size should give the Tar Heels a lot of issues, so his teammates will need to feed him the ball early and set the tempo. G Tyus Jones (11.3 PPG, 5.3 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.3 SPG) is in charge of getting Okafor the ball and running this offense. Jones had 11 points, six assists and six rebounds in a win over Syracuse and had 16 points and 12 assists the game before against Florida State. He has really distributed the ball well recently and his outside shot (40percent 3PT) keeps teams honest. His matchup with Marcus Paige should be extremely competitive and it will come a long way in determining the outcome of this game. G Quinn Cook (14.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 SPG) is another guy who can really knock down outside shots for this team (39percent 3PT). Cook is one of the leaders for Duke and is a big-time shot maker. Pressure doesnt get to him and he should perform well in this huge rivalry game. He averaged 14.0 PPG in two games against the Tar Heels last season and should be in for a bigger performance in this game, as North Carolina has struggled on defense this year. F Amile Jefferson (7.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG) has struggled recently for Duke. He hasnt had a game with more than five rebounds since Jan. 19 versus Pittsburgh and that must change with the Tar Heels in town. They are an extremely active team on the glass and Jefferson must do his part in preventing them from getting second chances.
Davidson will leave Southern Conference to join Atlantic 10 in 2014
The school announced Wednesday NFL Betting Lines that it will leave the Southern Conference to become the A-10s 14th team on July 1, 2014.
Commissioner Bernadette McGlade says Davidson is an ideal fit for the Atlantic 10 and will be competitive immediately.
The move helps the A-10 maintain its presence in the Charlotte market. The Charlotte 49ers are leaving the A-10 to rejoin Conference USA in July.
The A-10 also added George Mason after losing Butler and Xavier to the new Big East.
It will be home to all but two of the Wildcats 21 sports. Football will remain in the non-scholarship Pioneer League and wrestling will seek to remain in the SoCon the league it first joined in 1936.