North Carolina at Duke Free Pick Against the Spread – March 3rd

North Carolina Tarheels @ Duke Blue Devils — PICK

What an unbelievable day to start college basketball’s final weekend of the regular season.  Three games feature matchups of potential Final Four teams; Ohio State faces Michigan State in a game with enormous seeding implications, and Georgetown and Marquette battle – the winner becoming the forerunner for the #2 seed.  Both games should be absolutely fantastic (not to mention Kentucky @ Florida on Sunday).  But let’s be real.  There is one game that everyone will be watching.  Only one game that pulls in both college basketball fans and the general public alike…

Duke v North Carolina.

The first game was an instant classic (and predicted nearly perfectly here at thesportsgeek.com, though I admit to not seeing a buzzer beating Austin Rivers 26-footer capping off the day!), and this matchup should be even more intense.  Carolina absolutely gave one away three weeks ago, squandering a ten point lead in the final two minutes after thoroughly dominating Duke for the second half’s other eighteen.  Tyler Zeller, despite a few last minute miscues and unfortunate occurrences (the tip in to his own basket was a total fluke play, I don’t put that one as an ‘error’ on Zeller) and Harrison Barnes looked like a Top 5 Lottery pick, taking over for stretches after halftime.

However, the end result was a Duke win, and you know that’s been sticking in Coach Roy and the ‘Heels craws ever since.  I expect them to come into Cameron intense and extremely aggressive.  Look for them to get the ball into Zeller early and often and for Kendall Marshall to be aggressive in getting the superiorly athletic Heels out into transition.  Carolina fared well when they attacked the basket and didn’t settle for jump shots.

Duke, on the other hand, was simply bombing away against Carolina last time, launching nearly a three point attempt per MINUTE.  I think we all know the old axiom; the three pointer can shoot a lesser team into a game… and it can certainly shoot a good team right out of one.  It is because of that fact it is not always easy to predict exactly how the Dukies will fare.  But one thing is certain; their mystique in Cameron Indoor has been tarnished a bit this season.  It’s been a while since a pair of unranked conference foes wandered into Cameron and left with a win, but it happened this year (though FSU was soon after ranked and has been ever since – but there’s no excuse for the Miami stinkbomb or for need OT to beat Virginia Tech).

After watching a season of college hoops, I am fairly confidence that UNC is the second best team in the country.  If possible, the preseason #1 is actually a little underrated at this point.  It’s like everyone forgot about the Heels.  And I think that suits them just fine.   Look for them to go into Cameron and get a win today and nose into the lead for capturing one of the coveted #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

Free Pick:  North Carolina (pick ‘em)

Chris Scheeren / Author