UNC has elite shooting, excellent rebounding and can create turnovers on defense. They are an explosive team that can also shoot the three. The 6’10 Armando Bacot absolutely dominates the boards with 4 OREB/game. They score high and smother teams with blocks.
UNC is turnover prone, they have an average free throw rate at 75%, and their perimeter defense is suspect. UNC can struggle versus teams that have an accurate three and can avoid Bacot. Duke beat them by 20 points on February 5th by shooting from range and netting 9 threes.
Duke have elite shooting, rebound, and blocking. They are the closest thing to an NBA team in the NCAA. They average 8 threes per game and AJ Griffin is shooting nearly 50% from beyond the arc. Marc Williams is getting 3 blocks a game and they have three players who regularly nab offensive boards.
The Blue Devil’s weaknesses are steals, turnovers, and personal fouls. Duke can only beat themselves. When they play their game and don’t sabotage it with mental errors, they’re at an NBA level. Their loss to Carolina in the last game of the season saw Duke turn the ball over 9 times and rack up 13 personal fouls.
Odds and Prediction
Vegas has Duke as -4.5pt favorites. They’re clearly the better team but UNC has the potential to frustrate them. The big question is if the Tarheels can shut down Duke on the perimeter. Jeremy Roach has been extremely turnover prone for Duke in the tournament, regularly getting 4-5 a game, and that is what UNC should attack if they want to make the game close. Duke’s advantage is that they have a 6-10 player who can challenge Bacot on the boards. When they take away UNC’s biggest weapon, the depth and skill of the Blue Devils will be able to carry them to win by 7.