April 2, 8:49 pm ET, Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA
North Carolina- 8 Seed (East Region) 28-9 overall
Duke- 2 Seed (West Region) 32-6 overall
Why North Carolina will win
The Tar Heels beat Duke by 13 points in Cameron Indoor Stadium less than a month ago and have rode that wave of momentum all the way to the Final Four beating some of college basketball’s elite teams along the way. Senior forward Brady Manek has been sensational leading the team with 21.5 points per game and 8 rebounds during the tournament. North Carolina’s defense, which was a liability earlier in the season, has tightened the screws climbing into the top 140 in opponents field goal percentage after ranking outside the top 200 at the start of the ACC Tournament. Once again as was the case in the season finale on March 5th there will be enormous pressure on Duke’s players as they try to send Coach K out a winner.
Why Duke will win
Everyone talks about North Carolina’s 94-81 win in Coach K’s final home game but what seems to be forgotten was the dominant 87-67 road win by the Blue Devils in the first meeting of the year back in February. At one point late in the second half they lead by as many as 28 points with Freshman forward AJ griffin leading the way scoring 27 points. They also had a plus 16 rebound advantage against one of the best rebounding teams in the country. It is safe to say no one on Duke has forgotten about that March 5th loss at home and should provide plenty of motivation coming into this game.
Key to the Game
Three point shooting. Both teams rank in the top 60 in three point field goal percentage. Duke shot over 47% from three hitting 9 of 19 in the first meeting of the year. North Carolina shot just under 40% hitting 9 of 23 three point attempts in the win at Duke. Shooting has been an issue at larger Final Four venues due to the altered sight lines. How much of a factor it plays in this matchup remains to be seen
Eye Test Analytics Predicted Score- Duke by 2.97 points