Tag Archives: Duke-North Carolina Preview

Duke vs North Carolina Rubber Match

Duke will play the North Carolina  in the semi finals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament a mere six days after their last meeting.  In that game, Duke used a late rally to overcome the Tar Heels and even the season series at 1-1.  For Duke to advance to the championship game for the second straight season they will need to contain certain players.

Perhaps no player is playing better than North Carolina senior Theo Pinson.  What Duke has to watch for is his passing ability where he draws the defense in to kick it out to open shooters.  Pinson has enjoyed success against the Blue Devils and is currently the most consistent player for the Tar Heels.

Joel Berry has been another player who has hurt Duke with his drives to the lane during his career.  Berry has struggled with his shot of late, but confidence can come from a single big basket.  It is important for Duke to not let that happen as he starts many streaks for his team when the aforementioned happens.

Then there is Luke Maye, a player who had a fabulous season.  His mid range game is something Duke needs to be aware of.  The Tar Heels strength is their experience.

The one player who has really hurt Duke in their match ups with North Carolina is Pitt transfer Cameron Johnson.  His numbers go up against the Blue Devils.  He can drain the three from anywhere on the court and was a rebounding machine in his teams win at Chapel Hill.

Kenny Williams is also a consistent three-point shooter who has found openings against Duke.  Williams rounds out a starting five that Roy Williams settled on ten or so games into the season.

With the Tar Heels, you always have to watch the break by getting back quickly.  The Tar Heels are at their best when running on offense.

Duke has the advantage in the paint with Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr.  The Blue Devils will also seek to get continued consistent play from Marques Bolden and Javinn DeLaurier as well.

In the win in Durham, it took Duke a long time to find separation.  That only happened when Trevon Duval took over as the main ball handler down the stretch from Grayson Allen.

Duval had 11 assists in the win over the Irish but had a team high turnovers as well.  The Blue Devils will likely have Allen and Duval share the ball.

The one thing Duke cannot afford to do is stand around and wait for Allen and Bagley to do their thing.  While these two players have been hot, Duke struggled with lack of offensive movement from the rest of its talented cast.

There are many people who point to the Tar Heels as having played one more game and that it may lead to fatigue.  But lets remember that did not bother Duke a season ago.  So, counting on tired legs is not a good idea while playing a full forty minutes of basketball is the way to go.

All of the nation will feast on this marquee match up that will tip about twenty-five minutes after the conclusion of the Clemson-Virginia game.

Duke and North Carolina are already firmly in the NCAA Tournament field but both are now playing for a solid seed.  It is not easy to beat a good team twice in six days but that is what Duke must do to advance.

The winner of a Duke-North Carolina game does not always mean success down the road.  A season ago, North Carolina won the national title after losing to eventual ACC Champion Duke.

Regardless of that stat, both teams want to win and a chance at the title on Saturday evening.  Duke comes into the game 26-6. while North Carolina is 24-9.

The pick here is Duke by 6.

Duke at North Carolina Preview

Bragging rights are on the line as Duke travels to North Carolina in the ACC opener for both teams this season.  A season ago, Duke claimed the Victory Bell with a 28-27 win over the then 16th ranked Tar Heels.  Revenge plays a role in the series and by conventional wisdom North Carolina should be ready for some payback in Chapel Hill.

I have no doubt the Tar Heels will be ready to give Duke their best effort.  But lets not forget that the Blue Devils sought revenge with their last upset win over a Tar Heel team that hung 66 points on their defense the last time the teams met in Chapel Hill.  North Carolina flat-out ran up the score that day for the most points scored by any team in the series.

What does this all mean?  Well, for one you can throw the records out in this game for both teams are 0-0 heading into conference play.  In fact, the last time Duke went to Chapel Hill as the favorite was in 1999 and they lost that game 38-0.  Mercy is rarely shown in this game if a team gets the upper hand.

In fairness, Duke (-2.5) is the slight favorite this weekend, meaning this game is basically considered a toss up in objective circles.  While crazy things have happened when these two teams play, there are very few not expecting a close and high scoring game in that the over/under is 66 points.  And yes, that is how many total points the Tar Heels scored alone the last time in Chapel Hill.

About the Heels

The Tar Heels opened the season with an upset loss to California, but the Bears are now 3-0 and are much better than was anticipated.  They could not control Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson losing to Louisville but they scored a ton of points.  They righted the ship with an impressive win over a decent Old Dominion team last weekend while not being a heavy favorite.

North Carolina has suffered from the injury bug early in the season and their offensive line has been one of the main units which have taken a hit.  The defense is coming together after a coaching change as well.  But nobody is feeling sorry for this bunch in that on paper they have recruited well and have plenty of weapons.

The bottom line is that the Tar Heels can score points and Larry Fedora is known for good reason as a solid offensive coach.  They have now established some momentum and seen things go right against an Old Dominion team on the road.  That makes for a more dangerous bunch and the fact Duke is coming in will have their players as pumped as they can get.

About the Blue Devils

Lets start with the fact that Duke is 3-0.  Few had projected the Blue Devils would be undefeated at this stage to begin the season.  Duke coach David Cutcliffe and his staff has the team in a good place thus far but it is early and people are still wondering how good Duke might be.  The team did show signs of not putting Baylor away a week ago before actually doing so and they cannot leave points on the field to a more solid Tar Heel team this week.

Thankfully the talk on pushing Daniel Jones to the NFL via media hype stopped last week.  Jones showed that he still has a lot to learn but at the same time he has shown himself to be a big time quarterback in the quick Duke start.

The story for Duke has been their defense which is highly ranked after three games.  The team has a much better front but there are still questions in the secondary which could be answered this week. The defensive backs will be tested by a Tar Heel offense that likes to get to the ball and run plays quickly.

Duke has also had success running the ball and we can expect a balanced attack in this game.  The Blue Devils have some guys making plays, namely Shaun Wilson, but they need better route running from their wideouts who need to get into their break.

The Dire Importance of the Game

There will be some haymakers thrown for sure in the game for both teams want to start the ACC Coastal Division season 1-0.  The loser of the game will likely have a hard time recovering.  North Carolina would see their bowl hopes take a hit if they fall to 1-3.  The road gets no easier for Duke with a short turnaround for a Friday game with Miami.  Going into that game 0-1 in the league could dig an early hole in conference play.  The Tar Heels need a win the the biggest of ways to keep momentum going.  The Blue Devils could equal their win total from a season ago with a win and be a step closer to a bowl game.  The biggest thing though, is that his is a key Coastal Division game and both teams still have their eye on the prize to make it to Charlotte in the title game.

What Will Happen

Who is to know?  Cutcliffe worked with his kicking game this week and it could come down to special teams.  A turnover could be disastrous for either team and multiple ones could be sure doom and gloom.

On one hand, we may see a resurgent Heels team roll on offense to a big easy win.  They will continue their momentum after rolling past Old Dominion and reestablish themselves as a team to be reckoned with.

We could see a game so close overtime comes into play. It may come down to a kick or a turnover.

Duke might come out and control the game as they have in previous games and let the nation know they are for real.

I waver back and forth on whether this will actually be as high scoring a game as many think.  Part of me feels it could be a more defensive battle than some think.  On the other hand, everything points to points being scored.

It would be silly to think this game is not very competitive in that both programs are hungry.  If Duke can establish their run game it could bode well provided they do not turn the ball  over a lot.  It will be important for Duke to not let the Tar Heels get a big lead for the Blue Devils historically play better with quick starts under Cutcliffe.

I am picking Duke in this one.  I think they have just enough in the tank to earn Cutcliffe his 100th victory as a coach and continue a resurgent season.  But I think they will sweat this one out as well.

Duke - 34  North Carolina  - 31


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