Saturday college basketball betting previews: Clemson-Syracuse and UNC-Duke

By Greg Peterson  ( 

March 2, 2018 06:31 PM

Clemson at Syracuse (2 p.m. ET on ACC Network)

Opening Line: Syracuse -1.5

Offensive Efficiency: Clemson #88, Syracuse #206

Defensive Efficiency: Clemson #26, Syracuse #33

Rebound Rate: Clemson #79, Syracuse #40

Percent of Shots are 3s: Clemson #94, Syracuse #282

Free-Throw Shooting Percentage: Clemson #54, Syracuse #104

Pace: Clemson #271, Syracuse #329

Syracuse is once again on the NCAA Tournament bubble while Clemson is trying to get a potential top four seed.

Syracuse and Clemson both emphasize defense and play at tempos that are significantly slower than the national average. They also are very top heavy with their top scorers being dominant on offense while the rest of the team makes few contributions.

Syracuse is the more extreme of the two as its top three scorers account for over 73 percent of the team's scoring. The big three has taken more than 92 percent of the team's 3s.

Clemson has a bit more of a versatile lineup with just about everyone on the roster being capable 3-point shooters. Much like Syracuse, the Tigers also do a good job of making 2-point shots difficult and get more shots at the free-throw line than their foes.

With both teams relying on its top players to carry the offense, whoever can get better ball movement for open shots should have a leg up in this showdown.

North Carolina at Duke (8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN)

Opening Line: Duke -7

Offensive Efficiency: North Carolina #16, Duke #4

Defensive Efficiency: North Carolina #129,  Duke #30

Rebound Rate: North Carolina #2, Duke #4

Percent of Shots are 3s: North Carolina #259, Duke #226

Free Throw Shooting Percentage: North Carolina #92, Duke #176

Pace: North Carolina #65, Duke #97

The first time these two squared off, Duke was 64th in the nation in defensive efficiency. The Blue Devils are now No. 30 after allowing an average of 57 points per game in its six contests since the first installment of the Tobacco Road Rivalry.

Coincidentally, North Carolina has improved its offensive efficiency from 30th the first time around to 16th. The Tar Heels have posted an average of 87.6 points per game since these two last hooked up.

Despite these opponents making quantum leaps, they are coming off losses. Duke blew a second-half lead against Virginia Tech while North Carolina fell at home to Miami on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

Both squads are among the best in the nation on the glass by using lineups that don't take a lot of 3s, but have size at all five positions.

Neither of these schools sends its foes to the free-throw line often, so whichever one can get to the line the most should have a good advantage. Though Duke usually does not take a lot of 3s, the Blue Devils might want to reconsider as the Tar Heels are one of the worst in the country at defending the perimeter.

For North Carolina, one of Duke's biggest weaknesses is causing turnovers. With the Tar Heels having a very good assists-to-turnover ratio, protecting the ball could go a long way in being able to cover what is a pretty significant spread for a rivalry that traditionally has close games.

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