A pair of Tobacco Road teams will make their seemingly yearly pilgrimage to the Sweet 16 in disparate corners of the country this week.
Duke and North Carolina advanced to the third round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, thanks to collecting second round wins over Michigan State and Baylor, respectively.
Now, Duke must knock off a red-hot Texas Tech team in San Francisco in Thursday’s Sweet 16, while UNC gets to play UCLA in Philadelphia on Friday night.
The Blue Devils have the upper hand, odds-wise, in making it to the school’s 17th Final Four in 2022, as they did at the start of the tournament. But the Tar Heels seem to have an easier route on paper — thanks to knocking off their region’s top seeded team in the second round.
Here’s a North Carolina sports betting breakdown of the road to New Orleans both teams face.
Door Open for UNC in the East
The Tar Heels’ regional includes fourth-seeded UCLA of the Pac-12, third-seeded Purdue of the Big Ten, and Cinderella St. Peter’s of the MAAC.
Of those three teams, only the Bruins have been to a Final Four this century, reaching the program’s 19th semifinal in 2021.
Purdue’s last Final Four appearance came in 1980, while the 15th-seeded Peacocks last qualified for the tournament in 2011.
The Blue Devils, on the other hand, face a gauntlet of a West regional, battling for a Final Four spot with Texas Tech, Arkansas and top overall seed, Gonzaga.
The Red Raiders have been one of the most consistent programs in the Big 12 since Chris Beard took over the program in 2016, reaching the NCAA title game in 2019 and the Elite Eight in 2018. In his first year taking over for Beard, coach Mark Adams has led Tech to its third 27-plus win season since 1996.
Duke is the only higher-seeded team in the round of 16 to be an underdog to a lower seeded team. Texas Tech is a 1.5-point favorite in the game.
Gonzaga reached the title game a year ago, their second Final Four trip since 2017.
The Blue Devils — who also face the added pressure of finishing off coach Mike Krzyzewski’s sterling career on a high note — have a harder road to New Orleans than the Heels.
A Look at UNC, Duke Title Odds
Both Duke and UNC find themselves in the middle of the pack when it comes to NCAA title odds, with the Blue Devils sitting just ahead of the Tar Heels on four different sportsbook sites.
Duke ranks anywhere from +1400 odds to win March Madness (BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook) to +1600 (DraftKings Sportsbook), while UNC is listed at +2500 on BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook, +2800 on DraftKings Sportsbook, and +3200 on FanDuel Sportsbook. There are two Caesars retail sportsbooks at Cherokee casinos in the western part of the state.
Duke finds itself behind fellow West Region teams Gonzaga (+220), and Texas Tech (+1300), while UNC is behind East Region foes Purdue (+900) and UCLA (+1400). North Carolina opened the tournament +10000 to win the title.
Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Swan Song
Another storyline to keep an eye on this week is the rapidly approaching end of Krzyzewski’s tenure in Durham, with the winningest coach in NCAA history calling it quits after 42 seasons with the Blue Devils.
The man referred to as Coach K is looking for his sixth NCAA title, to go with his more than 1,200 wins and 99 NCAA Tournament wins.
Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils will look to keep their run going this week against the Red Raiders from San Francisco’s Chase Center.