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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, March 2, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Yes! March has begun…and the annual season finale for Duke and North Carolina in the ACC Saturday night is a reminder that it’s about to be WALL-TO-WALL BASKETBALL from this point forward in the sports betting world.

Hopefully many of you have already jumped into the water since last month’s Super Bowl. But…this is the weekend EVERYONE starts really paying attention. It’s GO TIME in college basketball…and there won’t even be time to come up for air until Final Four week.

Will Duke or North Carolina be in the Final Four? How about BOTH?! Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about both teams as they head into a game all of you will be watching on ESPN. You regulars know that NETWORK focuses on data from Ken Pomeroy’s landmark college basketball stats site. All data posted in this article is updated through the games of Wednesday night…

 

Current Rankings

#17 Duke is #15 at Kenpom, #10 at Sagarin, projected for a #3 seed

#5 North Carolina is #3 at Kenpom, #3 at Sagarin, projected for a #1 seed

North Carolina has made a nice run in the computers lately…so nice that losing to Virginia this past Monday didn’t knock them out of the top four. Even computers know that was a flat spot for the Heels! Roy Williams and company had already dominated Virginia once this season (recently), and this revenge rematch with Duke was obviously on deck. Duke is also getting more respect from the computers than the pollsters. Though, Duke has a history of underachieving those computers in several recent Dances.

 

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Duke: 120.3 per 100 possessions (#9 in the nation)

North Carolina: 121.8 per 100 possessions (#4 in the nation)

Great offenses here. We’ve talked a few times about how North Carolina became even more lethal when they added three-point scoring this season. They are always on the verge of exploding…though they couldn’t quite get things figured out this past Monday. Duke is very efficient once again. Though, as we’ve reported often over the years…this stat can inflate their true potential in tournament basketball because it’s harder to hit 3-pointers away from home, and because refs aren’t as friendly with the whistles. In the Dance…Carolina is likely to seem more explosive than Duke more often because of its versatility and lack of reliance on officiating.

 

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Duke: 96.3 per 100 possessions (#37 in the nation)

North Carolina: 94.0 per 100 possessions (#20 in the nation)

Both are good enough to shine on the national scale…though neither is stellar by Dance standards. Champions are typically better than this on the defensive side of the floor. Carolina is at least trending in the right direction. Edge to Carolina in both of our key categories. That’s before you factor in home court advantage (usually worth at least 3 points even when schools are this close geographically) and the host’s revenge motive.

 

Pace Ranking

Duke: #214

North Carolina: #57

North Carolina loves to run…and is coming off a game where they weren’t allowed to! Usually the home team can force their preferred pace on a game…which is still another factor in their favor. Duke has to be careful because injuries have hurt their depth. They may try to play like Virginia just so they can hang around and try to steal one. Duke can’t score the upset if they try to run with Carolina.

 

Against the Spread

Duke: 11-18

North Carolina: 16-13-1

North Carolina’s recent surge has put them into profit territory. Duke has been overrated (again) this season, finding it difficult to play to market expectations. The Blue Devils are typically priced to play at a very high level because of computer and “square” support. Tough to pull that off when you’re dealing with injuries and peak motivation from most opponents. Carolina has to deal with that same phenomenon, and couldn’t overcome it until a few weeks ago.

Clearly North Carolina has most of the important edges in terms of the straight up victory. But, this game ain’t pick-em! Has the line fully accounted for the dynamics? Or, should the price be even higher than it is because this has “double digit blowout” written all over it?

JIM HURLEY will be your man with the answers all March long. You can purchase BIG, JUICY WINNERS every day right here at the website. If you have any questions about this weekend or extended service, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 Friday during normal business hours or Saturday before the action gets started.

This is the PERFECT time to get LOCKED IN for all of MARCH MADNESS. Please check on our value-priced programs so you can get the most bang for your buck!

Back with you early next week with what will likely be a mix of mid-major championship previews and major conference tournament outlines. This is the month you’ve been waiting for. Fasten your seat belts so you can ride down THE ROAD TO RICHES and THE ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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