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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, March 6, 2015 at 7:00 PM

It’s one of the most storied rivalries in all of sports, even if it’s overhyped by the media! Duke visits North Carolina Saturday night on ESPN to close out the regular season for both of these traditional ACC and national powers.

Round One was a thriller won by Duke at home in overtime. Here are some important notes from that encounter.

*Duke celebrated the win, but North Carolina backers cashed their tickets. Carolina was +8.5, and probably should have won the game in regulation. It was a poor result for Duke in terms of expectations.

*Duke barely won despite shooting 10 of 16 on three pointers while North Carolina was only 2 of 10! That’s +24 points from behind the arc in a game Duke only won by two in extra time.

*Duke barely won despite earning a 31-20 advantage in free throw attempts. This is why they so often turn mortal in the Dance! They stop getting friendly officiating and shoot less well on treys. Note that Duke only managed 16 of 31 at the line, which could be an issue down the road. Only a handful of guys get their minutes…that handful can’t be trusted from the line in big games.

*North Carolina had to deal with foul trouble for two of its most important threats in the matchup (Meeks and Johnson both scored 18 points but committed 9 of 10 possible fouls before exclusion). The Heels need to avoid foul trouble in the rematch.

A great way to bring the regular season to a close. And, the important #4 seed in the ACC brackets is still up for grabs entering the weekend as Louisville and North Carolina are 11-6, trailing Virginia, Duke, and Notre Dame. By tipoff, Carolina will know what they have to do. You know what to do…hook up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for all of this weekend’s best Las Vegas bets!

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about the final weekend’s showcase attraction…


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Duke: 122.1 per 100 possessions (#2 in the nation)

N. Carolina: 114.4 per 100 possessions (#13 in the nation)

Still two great offenses. They do it differently. North Carolina flies at the basket and dares you to stop them. Duke does some of that, but still relies much more on treys than NC does…and too often friendly officiating. Duke probably won’t play to what you’d expect of a #2 offense in the Dance every time out. Slight edge here to the Blue Devils…though fair (or reversed!) officiating could nudge things in the other direction.


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Duke: 96.4 per 100 possessions (#66 in the nation)

N. Carolina: 94.0.1 per 100 possessions (#36 in the nation)

Definite concerns here for the postseason. Those would grade out as “vulnerable” once the elite teams are playing each other. That’s particularly true for Duke who still isn’t in the top 60. Heaven forbid they get into foul trouble in a big game and have to play their bench. Advantage here to the Heels. You can see why the first game went overtime. Carolina’s attack matches up well with Duke’s relative weakness.


Pace Ranking

Duke: #76

N. Carolina: #15

North Carolina is one of the fastest teams in the country. Duke is faster than average, and loves playing against other teams who push. That creates great entertainment for fans…and was part of why the first meeting was such a thriller. More on that here in a moment.


Against the Spread

Duke: 16-13-1 (17-11-1 to the Over)

N. Carolina: 16-13-1 (16-11-1 to the Over)

We included the Over trends because those fast paces have led to more Overs than the market expected. Game one landed on 81-all at the end of regulation, coasting past the Vegas line of 154. And, that’s with less than great free throw shooting. It wouldn’t be a shocker if these teams let loose and held another track meet.

In terms of the team side…we have an exact tie at 16-13-1. A credit to both teams who often have to deal with high prices because of media hype and market respect.

Will Duke/North Carolina be part of our package? You’ll have to sign up to find out! You can purchase the final word for the final Saturday of the regular season right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 before the early games tip off.

Just one more day of normal games left. We’ll check in on the top of the Big 10 Sunday before moving to extensive previews of the conference tournaments. Here’s the upcoming NOTEBOOK schedule…

Sunday: College Basketball…Wisconsin at Ohio State in the Big 10

Monday: ACC Tournament Preview…begins Tuesday in Greensboro

Tuesday: Pac 12 Tournament Preview…begins Wednesday in Las Vegas

Wednesday: Big 12 Tournament Preview…begins Wednesday night in Kansas City

Thursday: Big 10 Tournament Preview…begins Thursday in Chicago

Friday-thru-Sunday: Select big game previews on the fly

We can’t know which games we’ll be previewing until the matchups are set! Definitely some great possibilities in all the leagues we listed. If favorites win…we may be talking about Arizona/Utah, Virginia/Duke, Kansas/Somebody, and Wisconsin/Somebody in those big four leagues. If there are upsets, we may scoot over to the SEC to check on Kentucky, or the Big East to check on Villanova.

You can sense the MADNESS beginning all all the BIG MONEY in all the BIG GAMES with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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