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Picks, predictions for No. 7 Duke vs. No. 3 North Carolina on Saturday, Feb. 3

The marquee rivalry in college basketball will be renewed on Saturday as the Blue Devils head to Chapel Hill to face the Tar Heels.

Wake Forest v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The premier rivalry in all of college basketball adds a new chapter on Saturday as the No. 7 Duke Blue Devils head to Chapel Hill to face the No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels. Tipoff between these mortal enemies is set for 6:30 p.m. ET and the game will air on ESPN.

Duke (16-4, 7-2 ACC) has won three straight heading into this rivalry showdown and was last seen downing Virginia Tech in a 77-67 road victory on Monday. Despite committing 10 more turnovers than the Hokies, the Blue Devils were able to hold control for the contest by shooting 55.4% from the field. Jeremy Roach led the scoring efforts with 16 points off the bench.

North Carolina (17-4, 9-1 ACC) suffered its first setback in conference play on Tuesday, getting edged in a 74-73 road loss at Georgia Tech on Tuesday. This was a razor tight game all the way until the end and the Yellow Jackets got the last laugh when Naithan George provided the go-ahead layup with seven seconds left. The Tar Heels shot just 36.4% from the field and RJ Davis was the only player to crack double-digits with 28 points.

The clash to watch here is the Duke offense, ranked No. 9 in KenPom, going up against the North Carolina defense, ranked No. 4 in KenPom. The Blue Devils are one of the best effective shooting teams in the nation at 55.3% and will be tested by a Tar Heel team holding opponents to just 45.3% in the same category. Similarly, Duke is shooting roughly 39% from three while UNC is holding foes to just 30% from downtown. On the other side of the floor, it will be interesting to watch Kyle Filipowski duke it out with Armando Bacot in the paint. Duke is limiting opponents to just a 23.8% offensive rebounding rate, so we’ll see if North Carolina can generate second chance opportunities.

What this game means for Duke

Beating North Carolina is always a main priority for Duke and after sweeping the series last year, it would love to once again quiet the crowd at the Dean Dome. The Blue Devils have been solid, but some would argue that they still haven’t quite played to their full capabilities just yet. A win in Chapel Hill could be the catalyst for this team playing like a juggernaut for the rest of ACC play.

What this game means for North Carolina

Similarly, beating Duke is always a main priority for UNC and there is extra motivation for Bacot, Davis, and company after being swept by this team one year ago. The Tar Heels are sitting atop the ACC heading into this game, even after a Tuesday’s setback in Atlanta. Two straight losses would dampen the vibes with this team as it fights through the middle of ACC play, so it needs this win to keep the train rolling.

Duke vs. North Carolina odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: North Carolina -4.5
Total: 152.5
Moneyline: UNC -185, Duke +154

Pick: North Carolina -4.5