Duke vs. North Carolina Picks & Predictions 2/5/22

by | Last updated Feb 5, 2022 | cbb

Duke Blue Devils (18-3 SU, 12-7-2 ATS) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (16-6, 10-12 ATS)
When: Saturday, February 5, 6 p.m.
Where: Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Point Spread: DUKE -3/UNC +3 (BAS)
Moneyline: DUKE -150/UNC +130
Total: 150.5

Last Time Out:

Duke beat Notre Dame 57-43; North Carolina beat Louisville 90-83 in overtime.

About the Matchup:

It’s the final trip to Chapel Hill for Mike Krzyzewski, meaning this game has already received far more hype than usual. As far as the teams are concerned, the hype might only be justified in one direction. Duke has played well for the most part this season, although the Blue Devils looked rather ordinary against Notre Dame the last time they took the court. Had the Irish been able to shoot anywhere close to a decent percentage, the Blue Devils would have gone down.

Duke shouldn’t have an issue with focus this time, because the Blue Devils are facing off with their greatest rival. The bigger question is actually whether North Carolina is prepared for this game, because Hubert Davis has never been the head man for this great rivalry. Davis, of course, played in and was an assistant coach in the Duke-Carolina rivalry, but until you’ve actually gone through a game like this as the man in charge, there’s no way to know what it’s like. Will the Heels be ready to go up against Duke in a game that they badly need for their resume?

Scouting the Blue Devils:

As the numbers go, Duke has no business beating Notre Dame in South Bend last time out. The Blue Devils couldn’t shoot from outside, weren’t very careful with the ball and only ended up hitting 40 percent of their shots overall. Why did they pull it out? Because their defense made sure Notre Dame was worse and the Blue Devils owned the rebounds. Having Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams all but ensures Duke is going to win the battle on the boards, meaning that a team has to hit its shots in order to best the Blue Devils.

When Duke is hitting its shots, it’s almost impossible to handle them. The problem for Krzyzewski’s squad is that this team doesn’t consistently shoot well or play great defense. The Blue Devils do both of those things in spurts, but they have an annoying tendency to let teams up off the mat after an early start. A great example of that was Louisville, as Duke had the Cardinals dead in the water after eight minutes before allowing them to find their way back into the game. The Blue Devils ultimately covered, but that underscored the hard reality of betting on Duke: nothing is truly safe with this team.

Scouting the Tar Heels:

There are two ways to look at Carolina’s play at the Smith Center this season. The first is that things are going well for the Heels because they’ve been perfect at home and have covered all but one game in the ACC in Chapel Hill this year. The flip side of that is that Carolina’s play at home could be buoyed by a schedule that’s turned out to be rather soft thanks to a weak ACC.

When things have gone well for the Heels, defense hasn’t really been part of the game plan. The Heels aren’t horrible on defense (at least, not at the Smith Center), but they’re definitely more of a team that prefers to put points on the board. As long as Armando Bacot can hold his own down low against Banchero, the Heels will look to push the tempo in this game, likely sending the total over.

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Duke will Cover If: The Blue Devils can keep the Tar Heels from getting good shots. Carolina isn’t blessed with great shooters, so if the Blue Devils play defense the same way they did at Notre Dame, they’ll cover this easily. If the defense looks more like the Clemson game, Duke is going to struggle. North Carolina will Cover If: The Tar Heels can hold their own on the boards. A large part of Carolina’s success comes from extending possessions and finding a way to cash in on second chances because of Bacot down low. If he can stand up to Banchero and Williams and keep the Heels competitive on the glass, Carolina is in good shape.

Dan’s Best Prop Bets

A total of 150.5 seems to be a bit on the low side for this matchup. Duke and Carolina routinely play out epic contests with lots of scoring, and I can’t see this one staying in the 70s with how offense-heavy the Heels have been this year.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread

Carolina needs to have this game more, and I’m not sure Duke is out of the funk that it showed in South Bend. The Blue Devils got away with an off-night there, but I’m not sure they’re better off for it. I think they’re still going to come in at less than their best an allow the Heels to take advantage of it early. I’ll take Carolina and the points, and the Heels might win outright.