College Basketball Betting: Who Has the Edge on Tobacco Road?

Aidan Cotter
Aidan CotterAidanCotterFD
College Basketball Betting: Who Has the Edge on Tobacco Road?

Tobacco Road is up for grabs on Saturday night when the No. 7 North Carolina Tar Heels visit the No. 9 Duke Blue Devils. The latest instalment of this historic rivalry features a pair of top 10 teams battling for the ACC regular season title.

Below are the betting odds for North Carolina-Duke, followed by a breakdown of the matchup and a best bet.

All NCAA basketball odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

North Carolina-Duke Betting Odds

Betting Odds: Spread, Moneyline and Total

Tipoff: Saturday (Mar. 9), 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Spread: Duke -4.5 (-110)


Total: 151.5 (-115/-105)

North Carolina at Duke Matchup Analysis

North Carolina (24-6, 16-3 ACC) and Duke (24-6, 15-4) enter Saturday's matchup as the top-two teams in the ACC. A Blue Devils win would give Duke a share of the ACC regular season title while the Tar Heels can declare themselves outright champs with a win.

In conference play, these have been the unquestioned top two teams in the ACC. Strictly looking at conference numbers, Duke (+15.9) and North Carolina (+15) have the two best net ratings by a considerable margin. Duke leads the ACC with a 115.7 offensive rating and ranks third with a 99.7 defensive rating. North Carolina ranks fifth with a 109.1 offensive rating but first with a 94.1 defensive rating. They rank first and second in rebound rate, too, so there isn't much separating these sides on paper.

This will be the second meeting of the season between the long-time rivals. UNC took the home matchup, 93-84, after jumping out to a 10-point halftime lead. The Tar Heels narrowly edged the Blue Devils on the glass, 35-34, and both sides shot at least 50% from the floor. Duke made just 5 threes compared to North Carolina's 9, and UNC won the turnover battle, 5 to 11.

Despite that February 3rd result, Duke has been the better outside shooting team in conference play. The Blue Devils average 8.7 made threes per game and leads the ACC with a 39% mark from downtown. The Tar Heels average 7.8 threes per game but only shoot 34% from distance.

The turnover margin went against the season-long trends, too. Both teams have less than a 13% turnover rate in ACC play, but Duke (13.3%) has a higher forced turnover rate than UNC (11.9%).

Though Duke was unable to get it done in the first matchup, that was to be expected. North Carolina finished 14-1 at home compared to 7-2 in true road games. Duke is 15-2 at home but just 7-4 on the road.

For North Carolina, everything starts with RJ Davis. The senior guard averages 21.5 points per game with a team-high 26% usage rate. Davis is among the nation's top three-point shooters, averaging 3.2 per game at a 42% clip. He finished with 17 points on 5-of-14 shooting in the first matchup with Duke but figures to play a more prominent role in Saturday's rematch.

With Davis struggling from the field, UNC relied on bigs Harrison Ingram (21 points, 13 rebounds) and Armando Bacot (25 points, 10 rebounds) in the first meeting. The two rank second and third on the team in scoring with Bacot averaging 14.0 points per game and Ingram chipping in 12.5 points. In conference play, Ingram leads the ACC with 10.9 rebounds per game with Bacot's 9.9 ranking third.

UNC's X-factor on Saturday is wing Cormac Ryan. A high-volume outside shooter, Ryan is only shooting 32% from deep this season -- though he made 2-of-5 in the first matchup with Duke. He's begun to heat up over the final stretch of the season, shooting 40% from three over the last five games.

Duke, too, relies heavily on one player. Projected top-10 pick Kyle Filipowski leads the way with 16.5 points per game and a 27.9% usage rate. He's the Blue Devils leading rebounder, too, averaging 8.1 per game. Filipowski put up 22 points in the first matchup.

He's hardly the only option for the ACC's most efficient offense as all five starters average double-digit points. Guards Jeremy Roach (14.3 points per game) and Jared McCain (13.4) both hit 20 points in the first meeting, and they figure to see heavy involvement yet again.

Big man Mark Mitchell could end up being the deciding factor for Duke on Saturday. The sophomore went for 11 points and 9 rebounds in the first matchup, but he's been Duke's second-leading scorer at home this season, averaging 14.1 points per game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

North Carolina at Duke Best Bets

Although North Carolina bested Duke in their earlier matchup, the Blue Devils have opened as 4.5-point favorites. Considering they're at home, that's warranted. But, when you look at how these sides have played since that February 3rd affair, it may be a bit too low, so Duke -4.5 (-110) is the side to play.

Since they last squared off, Duke has gone 8-1 and North Carolina 6-2. According to Bart Torvik's power ratings, Duke has been the third-best team in the country since February 3rd with UNC down at 22nd. Though we shouldn't throw out the rest of the season, momentum favors the Blue Devils.

Recent results aside, the biggest thing that has me leaning Duke is how they lost that first matchup. They were bested by UNC from three and in the turnover battle -- two things that seem unlikely to happen again considering their season-long numbers. But, even so, the Blue Devils absolutely dominated the paint, outscoring the Tar Heels 54-36. With some positive regression from beyond the arc, Duke should have their way with North Carolina's defense.

The last meeting between these teams resulted in 177 total points, so I can get behind taking Over 151.5 (-115) on Saturday. Still, with the Blue Devils seeking revenge at home, the best bet is their spread on FanDuel Sportsbook.

Hey, North Carolina! FanDuel has an early sign-up offer for you. Get started with up to $300 in Bonus Bets when you pre-register for FanDuel Sportsbook before March 11th. See the promotions page for more information.

Looking for more college basketball betting opportunities? Head over to FanDuel Sportsbook to check out all of the upcoming college basketball odds.

Sign up for FanDuel Sportsbook and FanDuel Daily Fantasy today!

The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.