One of the biggest and oldest college basketball rivalry game will be televised tonight for all of you NCAA basketball fans. UNC Tarheels will host No. 8/9 Duke Blue Devils at the Smith Center. UNC leads the all-time series with Duke, 132-104 and is 60-34 against the Blue Devils in Chapel Hill and 15-13 in the Smith Center. However, it looks like Duke could possibly take the win. 247Sports Blue Devil Lair writer Chad Lykins believes that Duke will win.
Q: Who do you think is going to win tonight’s match up?
CL: In a rivalry of this magnitude, it’s extremely hard to really gauge what will happen from game-to-game. At this stage of the season, however, I feel that Duke is clearly the better team and is taking the right steps in proving to many that it is a legitimate national championship contender.
Duke – 78
UNC – 70
Q: What are the key factors and players that will determine the outcome of this game?
CL: The two key factors I’ll be focusing on during this game will be how efficient Duke’s No. 1 ranked offense, according to the Ken Pomeroy ratings, is in a hostile environment and the rebounding battle between both teams. A big effort will be needed from Duke’s Amile Jefferson, Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood on the glass to stymie one of North Carolina’s biggest advantages in this game.
Two players that I’ll be paying the most attention to will be juniors, Duke’s Quinn Cook and North Carolina’s James Michael McAdoo. For Cook, at times his play has been tremendous. But other times, dreadful. The Boston College game was key for his confidence going forward after posting a 21 point performance off the bench. I’ll expect Cook to begin tonight’s game on the bench and to be a vital contributor on the floor. McAdoo will be seeking his 17th consecutive double-digit scoring game tonight. While many will point out that McAdoo has seemingly regressed since the end of his freshman season where he was a breakout star for North Carolina in the NCAA tournament, he is still one of the more productive players in the ACC and is an overall solid collegiate performer. The main question, however, is will he able to perform to the fullest of his capabilities against arguably the best freshman in the country, Jabari Parker? McAdoo is still limited in the low-post and the high I.Q. of Parker to successfully defend down low could cause havoc for junior TarHeel.
Q: Duke had some inconsistent moments this year, do you think that could be a problem in this year’s rivalry game?
CL: If Duke’s shot attempts aren’t falling, then it could make for a very long, cold night. While its defense is slightly improving with each game, it is still very far from where it should be at this point. Transition defense will also be crucial for Duke.
Q: Jabari Parker has had an interesting season this year. Do you believe he will come through for this game?
CL: Absolutely. Unquestionably, this will be a big-game feel for the players, coaching staff, fans and media alike. And big-time players step up in a big-time environment. I fully expect Jabari Parker to continue a strong freshman season with another stellar performance for the Blue Devils against the Tar Heels.
Q: What player match-ups are you looking forward to seeing?
CL: I have already touched on the matchup between Parker and McAdoo, but another matchup that intrigues me is at the point-guard position, specifically with Duke’s Tyler Thornton and North Carolina’s Marcus Paige. Throughout the year, I have felt that Paige has played brilliantly for North Carolina. And a key statistic that sticks out to me is his play against ranked opponents. North Carolina is 3-1 against ranked teams with the lone loss coming at the hands of the No. 1 team in the country, Syracuse. In those four games, Paige is averaging 21.3 points per game. Although, the defenders from those opponents are likely not as an aggressive defender as Duke’s Tyler Thornton. If Thornton isn’t over-aggressive and gets himself into early foul trouble, he can easily set the tone for the evening by making life difficult for Paige and forcing him into taking bad shots and making bad decisions at the offensive end.
Well, UNC fans, Duke fans and college basketball fans will all have to wait to see if Chad is right or not. The UNC vs. Duke game has been cancelled and postponed. We will have to wait to see what happens soon enough.