Road underdogs rule Tobacco Road Rivalry when Duke faces UNC


USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Indoor Stadium and Dean E. Smith Center are two of the most hallowed and notorious home courts in college basketball. Oddsmakers take extra care when setting the spreads for the host teams in Durham and Chapel Hill, giving them a bit more respect than the standard 3-point home-court edge.

But when it comes to Duke versus North Carolina, head-to-head, those home courts don’t mean squat. Going back to the 1997-98 college hoops schedule, home teams in the Tobacco Road Rivalry are just 10-24 ATS (18-16 SU), with the visitor covering over 70 percent of the time.

No. 21 Duke is a 1-point home favorite hosting No. 8 North Carolina Saturday night, having gone just 4-14 ATS in its last 18 home stands against the Tar Heels.

The underdog, most often the road team, in this long-standing ACC war has been the smart play whenever Duke and UNC collide. In their previous 40 meetings, the team getting the points is 24-16 ATS (11-29 SU) – covering at a 60 percent clip – and when those spread reach six points or higher, the underdog improves to 15-8 ATS (4-19 SU), a 65 percent ATS winner.

That tally includes six meetings in the ACC tournament. When you trim those postseason clashes (neutral sites) from the record, and just look at meetings inside Cameron and the Smith Center, Tobacco Road pups of +6 or bigger are 13-4 ATS – cashing in at an impressive 76 percent rate.

While the pointspread favorite has ended up winning 29 of those previous 40 meetings between Duke and UNC, its margin of victory is less than a single point, with faves outscoring dogs by an average score of 78.21-77.24.

As for betting Tobacco Road totals, the Over and Under have paid out fairly evenly since 1997-98. In their previous 40 matchups, Duke and North Carolina have produced a 19-21 O/U count, including a 9-8 O/U record in Durham. Saturday’s total is set at 159 points.

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