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Huge Rivalries Cap Final Weekend

With regular season play wrapping up this weekend in the power conferences, some eyes may already be on next week’s conference tournaments. Most though will be fixed firmly on this weekend’s remaining fixtures.

There’s plenty still to play for in the Big East and ACC as championships and tournament seeding will be decided on Saturday. It all gets underway at noon with a huge clash in the nation’s capital.

No. 17 Syracuse at No. 5 Georgetown

Otto Porter, Jr. and the Georgetown Hoyas will look to secure a first Big East title since 2008.

Otto Porter, Jr. and the Georgetown Hoyas will look to secure a first Big East title since 2008.

No. 5 Georgetown (23-5, 13-4 Big East) will look to secure a Big East title at lunchtime, hosting rival No. 17 Syracuse (23-7, 11-6 Big East) for the final time in the conference.

A 67-57 loss at Villanova on Wednesday saw the Hoyas’ 11-game winning streak come to a halt, but with 13 wins in the last 15 games, John Thompson III’s side will be more than confident of picking up a win in Washington.

It was Georgetown that sent Syracuse into a three-game tailspin back on Feb. 23. A 57-46 win for the Hoya’s snapped the Orange’s 38-game home winning streak, putting a serious dent in Jim Boeheim’s side’s Big East chances in the process. At best, Syracuse can finish with the No. 4 seed heading into the Big East tournament.

Syracuse ended that three-game losing streak with a 78-57 win over DePaul on Wednesday night. The Orange will now look to win at Georgetown, a feat it achieved back on Feb. 26, 2011, the last time the two schools played at the Verizon Center.

Georgetown will enter the game with a seven-game win streak at home, while Syracuse – 5-6 over the last 11 games – have lost four of the last five away from the Carrier Dome.

Georgetown is the (narrow) favorite ahead of tip-off, with the spread at 1.5.

The Hoyas have posted a 14-9-1 ATS record this season, with an 8-7-0 record at home and an 8-7-1 record as the favorite.

Syracuse has compiled a 14-11-1 ATS record overall this season, with a 4-5-1 ATS record on the road and a 1-1-0 ATS record as the underdog.

The total opened at 121. The Hoyas (12-12-0) have split the over/under evenly this season while Syracuse (11-14-0) has favored the under.

Georgetown covered the spread in an upset win over the Orange on Feb. 23, with the total going under.

A loss doesn’t eliminate Georgetown from the Big East title picture, but a win will secure at least a share of the Big East title, its first since 2008 and eighth overall. That share could become an outright championship if No. 15 Marquette (22-7, 13-4 Big East) loses to St. John’s (16-13, 8-9 Big East) and No. 24 Notre Dame (23-7, 11-6 Big East) defeats No. 8 Louisville (25-5, 13-4 Big East).

Bookmakers however don’t expect either of those results going Georgetown’s way. The Golden Eagles are favored (-4) over the Red Storm, while the Cardinals are a huge favorite (-11.5) at home to the Irish.

Still, a win for the Hoyas will be huge, not least for the bragging rights it will bring over the ACC-bound Orange. Oh, and a No. 1 seed, of course.

Remaining Big East Schedule

Providence at Connecticut

No. 20 Pittsburgh at DePaul

No. 15 Marquette at St. John’s

No. 24 Notre Dame at No. 8 Louisville

South Florida at Cincinnati

Ryan Kelly and the Duke Blue Devils are underdogs as they travel to Chapel Hill on Saturday night.

Ryan Kelly and the Duke Blue Devils are underdogs as they travel to Chapel Hill on Saturday night.

No. 3 Duke at North Carolina

By the time the Blue Devils and Tar Heels take to the court in Chapel Hill on Saturday night, the Big East will be completely wrapped up. The Blue Devils will also know whether they still have a shot at the ACC regular season title.

No. 6 Miami (23-6, 14-3 ACC) will host Clemson (13-16, 5-12 ACC) earlier in the day. The Hurricanes – who looked odds on to win the conference outright just two weeks ago – have lost three of four, and an upset here would leave the door open for the Blue Devils to share the title. Bookmakers have Miami as a huge favorite (-12.5) though.

Whether or not the ACC title is still on the line is secondary in this installment of the Tobacco Road rivalry though.

Duke (26-4, 13-4 ACC) will need to defeat arch rival North Carolina (22-8, 12-5 ACC) for the second time this season if it’s to wrap up the No. 2 seed in the ACC tournament. The Tar Heels meanwhile will be only too happy to hand the Blue Devils a fifth conference loss, leaving the two teams tied.

The two sides split a pair of games last season, each winning on the other’s court. While this season has not been as successful as many expected, both schools will likely head to the NCAA tournament. A third showdown in the ACC tournament isn’t out of the question either.

Duke has struggled somewhat on the road this season, going 4-4 away from Cameron Indoor Stadium. North Carolina has gone 14-1 at home. That one loss came against Miami on Jan. 10. The advantage seems to be with the Tar Heels.

However, UNC is 1-4 this season against teams ranked in the AP top 25, while Duke is 17-0 this season when forward Ryan Kelly takes to the court. Kelly’s return from injury against Miami last Saturday was the stuff of legend, scoring 36 points and draining seven of nine from beyond the arc. His encore against Virginia Tech (18 points, nine rebounds, five assists) on Tuesday was pretty impressive also.

Playing at home, North Carolina is the favorite. The spread opened at 1.5.

The Tar Heels have gone 19-9-0 ATS this season, with an 11-4-0 ATS record at home and a 16-5-0 ATS record when playing as the favorite. All of those records will prove alluring for bettors this weekend.

Duke meanwhile is 16-14-0 ATS this season with a 3-6-0 ATS record on the road and a 0-1-0 ATS record when playing as the underdog.

The total opened at 152.5. Duke (16-14-0) has favored the over while North Carolina (12-16-0) has favored the under.

North Carolina covered the spread in February’s loss, with the total going under.

Remaining ACC Schedule

Georgia Tech at Boston College

North Carolina State at Florida State

Clemson at No. 6 Miami (FL)

Virginia Tech at Wake Forest (Sun)

Maryland at Virginia (Sun)

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