North Carolina vs Duke: Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (4/2/22)

North Carolina vs Duke Betting Odds

It’s the game of the century, as the biggest rivalry in college basketball will meet for the first time on the sport’s biggest stage.

Not only have Duke and North Carolina never met in the Final Four, but the two also have never met in the NCAA Tournament.

To thicken the plot further, this is Coach K’s last dance. This will be his final matchup with North Carolina, where he currently leads the all-time series 50-49 as the Duke head coach.

Given the rivalry between these two, the result of this game will be echoed in North Carolina for years to come. Whichever fanbase wins this game will have bragging rights for eternity.

Duke is a four-point favorite over the eighth-seeded Tar Heels while the total is hanging around 151.

Where does the value lie?

North Carolina Tar Heels Odds

The glow-up for the Tar Heels in the second half of the season has been spectacular.

On February 16, North Carolina dropped a home game to Pitt to fall to 18-8 overall and 10-5 in ACC play. The Heels had one Quad 1 win and were in danger of missing the tournament altogether.

Since then, the Heels have won 10 of 11, including beating Virginia Tech, Virginia, Duke, Baylor, and – of course – the deadly Saint Peter’s Peacocks.

The difference has been Brady Manek. Since the calendar flipped to February, Manek has been on fire.

With him playing so well, the North Carolina frontcourt becomes the most dangerous in the nation.

Because Armando Bacot is potentially the best player in the ACC. He earned East Region Most Outstanding Player honors for his work during this run, putting up a double-double in every game including a 20-point, 22 rebound performance in the East Regional Final.

But how impressive has this run been, really? The Tar Heels beat a flailing Marquette team, a shorthanded Baylor team, and a 15 seed. The win over UCLA was very impressive, but UCLA shot itself out of an eight-point lead. North Carolina didn’t win that game, but the Bruins gave it away.

The North Carolina backcourt has gone thermonuclear, however. Caleb Love put up 27 points in the second half of the win over UCLA. RJ Davis scored 30 against Baylor and 12 against UCLA. It’s been a remarkable performance from a backcourt I thought was overrated.

Hopefully, the UNC backcourt continues to play superbly. But going forward, North Carolina needs to continue targeting its frontcourt, because that’s where the Tar Heels win games.

Duke Blue Devils Odds

The worst-case scenario has happened. Coach K has extended his career as far as possible with this year’s version of the Blue Devils, reaching the Final Four with some impressive victories.

Most impressive has been the offense.

During this four-game tournament run, the Blue Devils have posted a 129.9 offensive efficiency mark. That’s not only insane, but it has pushed Duke to first nationally in offensive efficiency on the season, passing the vaunted Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Paolo Banchero’s draft stock rises every game. He’s averaged 18.5 points per game during this tournament run, shooting over 50% from 3 in the meanwhile.

The rest of the roster rounds out well. Wendell Moore and AJ Griffin are excellent wing-mates with Banchero, and both shot well over 40% from deep. Jeremy Roach and Trevor Keels make up a consistent backcourt.

It’s important to key in on Mark Williams, however, who has become a dominant interior presence during the second half of the season. He’s not just top-15 nationally in block rate and top-50 in offensive rebounding rate, he’s one of the most efficient scorers in the nation – and the most efficient in the Final Four.

Williams finished with a 139.5 ORtg this year, which was second nationally to Cornell’s Keller Boothby. He’s the most efficient scorer on the most efficient offensive team in the nation.

Duke is young, but the Blue Devils play with the savvy of a veteran NBA team – at least on the offensive end.

North Carolina vs Duke Prediction and Pick

My pick: Brady Manek over 2.5 3-pointers made (+115 at FanDuel)

The market is so efficient at this time of year that it’s hard to find value on either the side or the total.

If I were to bet on those markets, I’d look at Duke -4 and the over 151. North Carolina still feels slightly overvalued, and Duke vs UNC has gone over in five straight meetings.

Instead, I’ll target the player prop market.

As mentioned, Manek has been a flamethrower recently. He’s also gone over 2.5 3PM in eight of his last 10 games, averaging 7.6 3-point attempts in the meanwhile.

During just this tournament run, he’s launched 34 3s and made 16 of them, good for a 47% clip. And in two games against Duke this season, Manek is 11-for-20 from deep.

Because Duke’s 3-point defense is weak. The Blue Devils are sub-200 in efficiency defending both catch-and-shoot 3s and off-the-dribble 3s, per ShotQuality.

I’ll take Manek to hit three or more 3s, one more time.

March Madness Bracket

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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