Act III of North Carolina vs. Duke takes place Friday, and a key piece is back in the equation for the Blue Devils. Zion Williamson, Duke’s star forward, will face the Tar Heels in the semifinals of the 2019 ACC Tournament after missing virtually all of the first two games between the teams. Just 36 seconds into the first matchup on Feb. 20, Williamson famously blew out a shoe and suffered a mild knee sprain in the process, forcing him out of that contest as well as the next five. North Carolina beat a Zion-less Duke squad that night and in the regular-season finale. But Williamson returned with an emphatic performance on Thursday, scoring 29 points on 13-of-13 shooting in a victory against Syracuse.
Tipoff between North Carolina (27-5) and Duke (27-5) at Spectrum Center in Charlotte is set for 9 p.m. ET. The Blue Devils are favored by 3.5 points in the latest Duke vs. North Carolina odds, while the over-under for total points scored is 165. Before making any Duke vs. UNC picks of your own, be sure to see thepredictions from the SportsLine Projection Model.
This model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, has raked in the winnings for those following its picks. Over the past two years, the SportsLine Projection Model has returned over $4,000 to $100 players on its top-rated college basketball picks. It also entered conference championship week on a strong 11-5 run on all top-rated college basketball picks. Anyone who has followed it is way up.
Now the model has honed in on Duke vs. North Carolina. We can tell you it is leaning under, and it has also locked in an against-the-spread pick that cashes in well over 50 percent of simulations. That one is only available at SportsLine.
For Friday’s game, the model has factored in Williamson’s return. The presumed No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Williamson is averaging 21.9 points (second on the team behind RJ Barrett’s 23.3) while leading the team in rebounding (9.0) and shooting 69.6 percent from the field. Three of Duke’s five losses came with Williamson out.
In Thursday’s win, the Blue Devils pulled away from Syracuse behind the inside game of Williamson and the shooting of Barrett, who added 23 points. Duke also had more rebounds (38 to 27), assists (16 to seven) and steals (14 to eight) than the Orange.
But just because Williamson is back doesn’t guarantee that the Blue Devils will cover the Duke vs. North Carolina spread in the 2019 ACC Tournament semifinals.
The model also knows that the Tar Heels, ranked No. 3 nationally, are playing arguably the best ball of any team in the country. Since being blown out 83-62 at home by Louisville on Jan. 12, North Carolina has won 15 of 16 games, with the only loss coming to No. 4 Virginia.
Freshman guard Coby White has been a revelation the past 16 games. White, who scored just four points in the loss to Louisville, has improved his scoring (18.7 points from 14.0), shooting (44.6 percent from 41.9), 3-point shooting (38.7 percent from 34.6) and assist-turnover ratio (1.76 from 1.30) in that span. In the quarterfinal win over the Cardinals on Thursday, he had 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
So who wins North Carolina vs. Duke? And which side of the spread can you bank on in well over 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the UNC vs. Duke spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that’s up more than $4,000 on top-rated college basketball picks the past two seasons.