College basketball best bets for Saturday, 3/9: Duke exacts revenge against North Carolina

Duke Blue Devils forward Mark Mitchell (25) reacts to a missed shot during the second half against the Charlotte 49ers at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
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Caleb Wilfinger


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Deputy Editor for Pickswise with years of experience handicapping and giving out winning picks. Lover of all US sports and Southampton FC. For Caleb Wilfinger media enquiries, please email
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The college basketball regular season is nearly complete and Saturday brings us another terrific slate of games, as we’ve got high-profile matchups between AP Top 25 teams and showdowns between top conference foes from the blue bloods to the mid-majors. In all, Saturday should be filled with nonstop action and marquee games from Noon until deep into the night on the east coast.

While the college hoops market is as sharp as its ever been, there are still a few good value bets of which to take advantage of. Let’s take a look at my best bets for these games on Saturday, but make sure you also check out our college basketball picks for the biggest games of the day.

Duke Blue Devils -4 over North Carolina Tar Heels (-110)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to Duke -5.5 

The biggest rivalry in college basketball takes center stage on the final day of the regular season once again, as the Duke Blue Devils are home favorites to exact a bit of revenge on the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It’s rare that I arrive at this conclusion, but are we sure enough people are talking about Duke? Heading into the postseason, there aren’t many teams playing better than the Blue Devils, as Duke is ranked 4th at Barttorvik since February 1. The eye test holds up to scrutiny too, as Duke is 8-1 over its last 9 contests, with most of those victories coming in blowout fashion. The same can’t be said for North Carolina, as the Tar Heels have recently struggled with NC State and Miami as double digit favorites in both games at home.

The Tar Heels are undoubtedly a top 10 team in the nation, but Duke’s backcourt is playing at a much higher level heading into this second meeting. Tyrese Proctor’s impact on the defensive end can’t be understated, while Jared McCain is shooting over 40% from beyond the arc and looks like one of the better players in the nation of late. As a team, the Blue Devils should defend much better than in the first meeting, where North Carolina thrived in transition but had more trouble in the halfcourt. It helps that the Tar Heels were white-hot from three-point range while Duke shot just 26% from beyond the arc in that game. Don’t expect a repeat performance, and we can expect some positive shooting regression from Jon Scheyer’s bunch. Let’s roll with the hosts to win by margin on Saturday.

Creighton Blue Jays ML over Villanova Wildcats (-110)

Odds available at PointsBet Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to Creighton -2.  

In what has to be one of the best spots on the board to fade a team on the bubble this weekend, I’m going to be targeting the Creighton Blue Jays to put a serious dent in Villanova’s NCAA tournament hopes. In many instances, the betting market tends to slightly overvalue a team that needs a win to either stay alive or punch their ticket to the Big Dance. That’s exactly what I’m seeing here, as I project Creighton to be a slight favorite in a matchup that’s priced as a pick’em against a desperate ‘Nova team in Philadelphia.

The Blue Jays are playing some of their better basketball of the season of late, and they’ll be looking to exact some revenge over Villanova after letting the first meeting get away from them back on December 20. The Blue Jays led by 10 at halftime in Omaha but surrendered 34 second-half points en route to losing 68-66 in overtime. That should be fresh in the minds of Greg McDermott’s team ahead of this Big East clash. There is also something to be said for the improvements that Creighton has made on the defensive side of the ball (24th in adjusted efficiency at KenPom), which has propelled the Blue Jays into the top 10 at KenPom and Barttorvik. And while Villanova has been playing at an elite level defensively all season, the Wildcats have struggled mightily on offense when stepping up in class in Big East play. Let’s get to the window with Creighton.

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