Duke’s Javin DeLaurier (12) and Zion Williamson (1) defend against St. John’s Shamorie Ponds last Saturday
Duke’s Javin DeLaurier (12) and Zion Williamson (1) defend against St. John’s Shamorie Ponds last Saturday|Associated Press
NCAAB

ACC Saturday: Game of the Season On Tap

Also: Miami-North Carolina

Mark Eckel

When I first moved to South Carolina just around the start of the 2017 college football season I learned, kind of the hard way, you can’t root for both USC and Clemson.

Well, now it’s the 2019 college basketball season and today I’m breaking another rule of the South, I’m rooting for North Carolina and Duke.

Here’s why . . .

MIAMI (+16.5) at NORTH CAROLINA, 12 p.m.
Pick: North Carolina (-16.5)

That’s a big number, for sure, but the Tar Heels (18-4) are rolling and should use the undermanned ’Canes (10-12) as a tune-up for Monday’s showdown with Virginia.

North Carolina has won six straight and has covered the spread in five straight. The Heels are also 10-1 in the Dean Dome.

Miami has yet to win a game on the road this season (0-5), is winless (0-6) against teams ranked in the top 20 and is 5-13 in their last 18 games against the spread.

This looks like an old-fashioned blowout with guard Cameron Johnson (16.0) and forward Luke Maye (14.9) leading the way for the Heels.

DUKE (+2) at VIRGINIA, 6 p.m.
Pick: Duke (+2)

This is the game of the day, maybe the game of the season.

Yes, it’s a revenge match for Virginia and the Cavs (20-1) are home, but Duke (20-2) is just the better team and will show why Saturday night.

In Duke’s 72-20 win at Cameron earlier this season, point guard Tre Jones (5.5 assists per game) sat out. The status of Virginia point guard Ty Jerome (13.0 points, 5.0 assists) is in doubt. Jerome, who missed the Cavs win over Miami last time out, is bothered by a bad back.

Virginia, as is it wont to do, will try to play the game at its pace and keep the score down. That’s not going to be easy against the best Duke team in years.

Zion and Co. roll as the Blue Devils sweep the regular season series from the Cavs.

Here’s another little trend, if you’re into those: The road team is 20-5-1 in this series and the underdog is 20-8-1.

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