One of the biggest rivalries in all of sports will be renewed again tonight. The No. 9 Duke Blue Devils will take the short 11 mile drive down to the Dean E. Smith Center to take on the No. 5 North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. ESPN will air the game with tip-off scheduled for 9:00 pm EST. However, the game will most likely be pushed back a few minutes due to ESPN’s coverage of No. 11 Georgetown at No. 2 Syracuse that begins at 7:00 pm EST.
Duke looks to rebound after a tough loss in overtime at home to Atlantic Coast Conference foe, Miami. North Carolina hopes to continue it’s stretch of winning, and push it’s streak up to six in a row. The Blue Devils have been struggling as of late with two losses in it’s last five games, both of which came at home. Duke is not a good defensive team at all. In fact, the Blue Devils are miserable at playing defense. Duke’s opponents shoot an outstanding 43.8 percent from the floor, and score on average of 69.1 points per game. This ranks the Blue Devils 217th and 228th respectively amongst all other Division-I men’s basketball programs in the country. On the other hand, North Carolina is scoring and rebounding team in the country. The Tar Heels score an average of 84.1 points per game, 1st in the country, and haul in 46.3 rebounds per game, also 1st in the country. These stats alone pose a huge scare for the Blue Devils of Duke University.
If Duke plans to win this game they have to play reasonably better on the defensive end. The Blue Devils will need to slow down Tar Heel point guard, Kendall Marshall. Only a sophomore, Marshall averages 9.8 assists per game. Marshall likes to break out and push the ball up the floor to get easy fast break points. Duke’s guards will have to pressure Marshall so he can not break out into the open floor. Mason and Miles Plumlee will have to step up and play big on the boards tonight for Duke. Seth Curry played two great regulars season games last season against North Carolina, scoring 22 points and 20 points respectively. In the ACC Championship game last season Curry was only able to pitch in 11 points. Curry will need to have another outstanding performance tonight in order for Duke to win. Lastly, Duke guard Austin Rivers needs to play his tail off in tonight’s matchup. Rivers will have to get rid of the freshman nerves of experiencing the Duke – UNC rivalry for the first time. He is too good of a player to get caught up in the moment. If Rivers tries to be too fancy, like he usually does, and stray away from fundamental basketball he will be turning the ball over and forcing bad shots all night long. The Blue Devils will need to play a flawless game in order to pull out the victory on the road.