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Duke vs. North Carolina Final Four Odds, Picks & Predictions

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com

Dan Kilbridge  | 6 mins

Duke vs. North Carolina Final Four Odds, Picks & Predictions

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It was an undoubtedly tough scene at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mike Krzyzewski, dutifully participating in long-planned postgame ceremonies for his final home game as Duke’s coach, moments after a devastating upset loss to rival North Carolina in what was also presumed to be his final game against the Tar Heels.

The hope was to quickly put it in the past and move on to a deep March run, never to think of the 2021-22 Tar Heels again. It went halfway according to plan.

While Duke cruised to the Final Four for the 13th time under Krzyzewski, North Carolina was taking care of business with upset after upset to win the East region and set up an epic final matchup with the highest of stakes for this storied rivalry.

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Duke is a -4 favorite at sportsbooks and betting sites for the third matchup between these two teams this season. The Blue Devils scored a 20-point win in Chapel Hill before the Tar Heels pulled off the 94-81 upset to ruin Krzyzewski’s Cameron farewell party.

This is the first time these programs have ever met in the NCAA Tournament, let alone at a Final Four, setting up one of the most anticipated semifinal games of all time for Saturday’s matchup in New Orleans.

North Carolina vs. Duke Best Bets

North Carolina vs. Duke Key Matchups

R.J. Davis vs. Duke Backcourt:

Tar Heel guards Caleb Love and R.J. Davis have been the major sparks to this unexpected Final Four run for North Carolina, and Davis especially will be an X-factor in this matchup. The sophomore guard was 0 of 3 from deep and managed just 11 points in the home loss to Duke, but he came back strong with a pair of threes and 21 points in the upset win at Cameron Indoor.

While Davis is just 1 of 8 from deep over the last two games, he made 5 of 10 threes and had 30 points to lead the charge in the upset win over No. 1-seeded Baylor. He’ll keep the Tar Heels in it for the duration if the Blue Devils let him get hot again.

Duke vs. North Carolina Final Four Odds, Picks & Predictions 1

Armando Bacot vs. Paolo Banchero:

The two forwards were in the ACC Player of the Year discussion all season, with Duke’s Banchero earning Freshman of the Year honors and North Carolina junior forward Bacot finishing second in POY voting. The Tar Heels will throw a few different looks at Banchero, including standout defender Leaky Black.

Limiting Banchero on the perimeter will be key – he was just 1 of 5 from beyond the arc in the home loss to the Tar Heels, but he’s 8 of 15 from three so far in the NCAA Tournament. The battle on the boards could also swing this matchup. Duke held a 40-24 rebounding advantage in the first matchup, but the Tar Heels outrebounded the Blue Devils 37-34 at Cameron. Bacot and Banchero are the top rebounders and will have to fight for every inch in the Big Easy.

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Duke vs. North Carolina Point Spread

The Blue Devils are about a -4 favorite for this matchup and the line hasn’t changed at all since it first opened.

Public betting has been very close, with the Tar Heels getting slightly more action early in the week. That disparity could change in the hours leading up to tipoff, as is always the case with big primetime games generating a lot of last-minute action at the ticket window and sports betting apps.

These two teams have been almost identical in terms of covering prowess – North Carolina is 20-16-1 against the spread this season while Duke is 20-16-2. The Tar Heels have been rolling at sportsbooks this month with covers in all four tournament games thus far. The Blue Devils failed to cover in the opening round and have been a tougher bet lately, going just 3-5 against the spread over the last eight games.

We expect a back-and-forth game for 40 minutes and think this is a good line to take the dogs. North Carolina has covered four straight games as an underdog dating back to early February. Win or lose, we like the Tar Heels to cover +4 at the Superdome.

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Best Moneyline Bet: Who wins? Duke or North Carolina?

Duke is a -190 favorite on the moneyline, with the Tar Heels going off as +165 underdogs.

This will be the 258th matchup in what’s been one of the most back-and-forth, competitive rivalries in any sport. It’s all split at 4-4 over the last eight matchups, but North Carolina has had the recent upper-hand winning three of the last four. The Tar Heels are also 10-1 overall in their last 11 games, with a lone loss to Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament.

North Carolina has the more impressive tournament win after upsetting No. 1 Baylor, but the Tar Heels did get a lucky draw with No. 15 Saint Peter's in the Elite Eight. Duke has calmly dealt with three very solid opponents in a row, all of whom provided way different looks schematically.

Duke has taken some punches but continues to come back stronger, finishing games in crunch time. This should be a very close matchup, but we’re taking the Duke moneyline and expect the Blue Devils to come out on top and advance to the National Championship.

Duke vs. North Carolina Final Four Odds, Picks & Predictions 2

Duke vs. North Carolina Total

We’re looking at a total of about 151 on betting apps, up just a half-point after opening at 150.5. Again, the betting action is very close with an almost 50/50 split on total tickets. That could trend more toward the Over come Saturday.

The total went Over in each of the first two meetings, with very similar numbers of 152.5 and 153.5. We think this could be a different type of game. It’s generally a more low-scoring affair when teams meet for the third time in a season. Everyone knows the gameplan and players have seen individual strengths and weaknesses up close.

Toss in the massive hype surrounding this game, getting used to shooting in a dome environment and the potential for pre-game jitters on both sides, this might be more of a slow burn in the early-going. We’re taking the Under for the marquee Final Four matchup.

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About the Author

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com
Dan Kilbridge
Handicapper Dan Kilbridge writes about college football, MLB and other sports for Bookies.com after spending three years covering Tiger Woods’ comeback and the PGA for Golfweek.