I will say it! Duke opens their ACC season with their archrival North Carolina in a scheduled game that continues to buck tradition past. In short, they are playing this game way too early. Well, that is not likely to change due to TV contracts and such, so here we are in an early-season matchup of rivals.
Duke has rebounded wonderfully winning three games in a row since their disturbing upset loss to Charlotte. On the other side of things, North Carolina came into the season overhyped and comes in at a surprising 2-2.
Before the season started the Tar Heels were picked first in the Coastal Division while the Blue Devils were picked dead last. Duke has benefited from a very manageable early-season schedule while the Tar Heels have already lost to two division opponents in Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
The conventional thinking here is that the Tar Heels will take out their angst when the Blue Devils visit Chapel Hill at high noon this Saturday. Vegas has installed them as a 20 point favorite over Duke and some think that is not enough.
Duke hopes to keep the Tar Heels offense off the field with its running game. But for that to work, they will need some success through the air. The Tar Heels will try to steamroll the Blue Devils in blitzkrieg fashion and they have been known to run up the score in the series when allowed to do so.
We will learn a lot about these two teams this weekend. Duke is clearly rebuilding while North Carolina is supposed to be at the top of the league via big time recruiting.
Two things can happen here. Duke can play better than some think per the odds and frustrate the Tar Heels into rushing things. Or, North Carolina can right the ship where everything goes right for nothing cures ills like stomping your rival.
Either way, both teams will still have plenty of questions to answer no matter the outcome.
From a Duke perspective, fans want to see the team play with heart and if things go south, they want to see them maintain the spirit. From the other side of things, the Tar Heels seem to be in "no quarter," mode and nothing but covering that 20 point line is acceptable.
I do think Duke will show up, but that does not mean it will be enough against a more talented roster.
The Pick is - North Carolina 42 Duke 20