For nearly 100 years houses have been divided and friends have turned foes for two nights during the college hoops season. Separated by less than 20 miles are two of the most storied programs in college basketball history. And it’s that close proximity, long-term success, legendary players and unforgettable games that make Duke/UNC the best rivalry in college hoops.
Both teams enter tonight’s regular-season finale with question marks. Despite a 12-game win streak, it’s hard to erase the memory of the sporadic play that troubled the Tar Heels early on in the season. And the once sure-fire Blue Devils have had their own inconsistencies exposed in uncharacteristic losses like their most recent defeat at the hands of Wake Forest.
The bottom line is both of these teams need this win headed into the ACC Tournament to solidify their NCAA resume. Add to that their passionate rivalry and talented, and we’re in for a treat tonight in UNC/Duke Pt 2.
Keys To The Game:
1. Jabari Parker: Jabari Parker is the best player for Duke and possibly the nation. And when your leader is clicking everything else seems to fall into place. Parker has to stay active the entire game if they’ll get the win in Cameron.
2. Shooting: You may say that’s the key for every team, but it’s particularly the key for Duke. The Blue Devils often live and die by the 3-pointer and when their shots are falling there isn’t a team that can beat them.
3. Scrappy Play: At times Duke becomes a very finesse team, but when you go to war you have to get scrappy. And a was is exactly what tonight’s game will be. If the Blue Devils go out there and play pretty boy ball, they’ll experience another ugly loss.
1. James McAdoo: McAdoo entered UNC with high expectation that he mostly hasn’t lived up to. But every now and then you see flashes and are reminded why the Tar Heel faithful were jumping for joy when he committed. The bottom line is, when McAdoo plays well UNC wins.
2. Negating The Crowd: There is a reason why Cameron Indoor Stadium is heralded as one of sports best venues. It’s small, intimate and a beast to try to win in. If UNC can temper the Crazies that provide so much fuel to their Blue Devils they’ll have a chance to win.
3. Defend the Perimeter: If Duke lives and dies by the 3, then common sense would tell you to take that away.
X – Factors:
UNC – Marcus Paige: With 16.9 points and 4.5 assist per game, Paige has been the Tar Heels best player this season. When he disappears, so does UNC.
Duke – Marshall Plumlee: Yes you read that correctly. One of Duke’s glaring weak spots is their frontcourt. They have no size, but if Marshall Plumlee can give them good/solid minutes, not only will Duke be hard to beat tonight, but in the NCAA Tournament.
Happy Duke/UNC Day!