Always high are the stakes when Duke and North Carolina play, but this year, things go far beyond bragging rights as the Blue Devils travel to the Tar Heels on Saturday to close the regular season. Duke (22-8, 13-6 ACC) is holding out hope for a double-bye in the ACC Tournament, while the Tar Heels (19-11, 11-8) are fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives.
UNC entered the weekend as one of the "First Four Out" of CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm's projected field and desperately need some momentum entering next week's ACC Tournament. A Quad 1 win over the Blue Devils would bolster the Tar Heels' hopes of an at-large bid, but it won't be easy.
Duke won the first meeting 63-57 on Feb. 4 by holding North Carolina scoreless for nearly four minutes down the stretch. UNC shot just 28.6% in the second half amid the second loss in what became a stretch of five losses in six games. The Tar Heels have since won three straight to keep themselves on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
As for the Blue Devils, a victory paired with a Clemson loss to Notre Dame would propel them to the No. 4 seed in the AAC Tournament, allowing a double-bye into Thursday's quarterfinals. Duke enters on a five-game winning streak behind the development of a deep group of freshman contributors as first-year coach Jon Scheyer seeks to begin his career with a regular-season sweep of the program's arch rival.
How to watch Duke vs. North Carolina live
Date: Saturday, March 4 | Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Location: Dean E. Smith Center -- Chapel Hill, North Carolina
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Duke vs. North Carolina prediction, picks
UNC won the regular-season finale between the teams last season in legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's final home game and used the victory to jumpstart an incredible postseason run. The Tar Heels have their backs against the wall once again, and this time they also have home court advantage. The stakes are simply too high for North Carolina to come out flat as it has done too often this season. Its NCAA Tournament hopes are at stake, and so is revenge after a dud performance against Duke in the season's first meeting. Look for the Heels to play inspired basketball. Prediction: North Carolina -2.5
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