Why Duke Basketball cannot overlook North Carolina

As a Duke basketball fan there is only one thing that comes close to making  me as happy as watching my favorite team the Blue Devils win, watching my least favorite team the North Carolina Tar Heels lose. Fortunately for me and other Duke fans there has been plenty of both this season. Duke has already obtained 20 wins and is currently ranked number 8th in the country whereas North Carolina remains unranked because of some embarrassing defeats that they have suffered.

When these two teams renew the greatest rivalry in college basketball tomorrow night in Chapel Hill it will be the underdog, North Carolina, who undoubtedly has the most to lose. The Tar Heels are easily one of the most up and down teams in college basketball this season. UNC defeated the number one ranked Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing and in the process showed flashes of untapped potential that UNC fans have been waiting for all season. However, Carolina has also showed flashes of downright awfulness by losing to such teams as Belmont and UAB at home.

North Carolina will undoubtedly be desperate to add a win against the top ten Blue Devils to their resume in order to cement their invitation to this year’s NCAA tournament.

Fans of both teams already know that when it comes to Duke and North Carolina it is a safe assumption that no matter what each team is ranked coming into the contest picking the winner is almost impossible.

Duke has had the better season so far but is still a very young inexperienced team. Fortunately the same can be said for North Carolina. The big difference in this game, like many college basketball games these days, might be the fact that North Carolina will have the luxury of playing this game on their home court.

North Carolina looked dead in the water when they started conference play by losing four of their first five games. Since then they have won five in a row and seem to be sorting out the issues, such as terrible free throw shooting, which had plagued them all season.

Duke on the other hand lost their first two road conference games against Notre Dame and Clemson. Since then they have played much better on the road having defeated the ranked Pittsburgh Panthers as well as coming dangerously close to upsetting an undefeated Syracuse team.

The main key to this game, like so many games for Duke, will be their ability to consistently hit open three pointers.          Last season Duke was able to shoot North Carolina out of the building with a great performance by senior guard Seth Curry. Unfortunately Curry is no longer eligible to replicate his great performance from last season meaning somebody else is going to need to step up.

The major advantage that Carolina has over Duke is their size in the post. If Duke can keep James Michael McAdoo off the glass and not involved in the game there should be almost no reason that they will be able to hold off their struggling rivals and secure the victory.

  • HeelsHoopsHawk

    Inspired play by Kennedy Meeks (see MSU game) or Brice Johnson (ditto) down low would simply have no answer from Duke. Parker can’t risk getting into foul trouble in the paint, and the third Plumlee- Miles… Manfred…. Mickey (??? can’t keep ’em straight)- is too unseasoned on the college stage. Tokoto’s been a beast on offensive boards recently too; but, in this game, UNC must control the defensive boards to limit Duke’s opportunities. Otherwise it’s lights out in the Dean dome all over again!