Talking points: It's go time for Devils & Heels
Posted February 12, 2013
1. It's the battle of the blues on Tobacco Ro...actually, let's stop right there and leave the flowery pregame lead up to television professionals.
No doubt Jeff Capel's shot, Austin Rivers' game winner, Tyler Hansbrough's bloody nose and a tale of the tape comparing achievements will make appearances before Duke and North Carolina even step on the court.
We've been going to the same party every season for 50 years now and in no way is that depressing.
2. Snark aside, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels have a firm grasp on being the premiere rivalry in college basketball. Louisville and Kentucky, along with countless other rivalries like Syracuse and Georgetown, can be just as intense. However, none of them bring national attention like Duke and North Carolina.
It still holds true despite the wide gulf in perception between Duke and North Carolina this season.
The Blue Devils are in line for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament thanks to an incredible early-season run against RPI Top 50 teams. Despite getting trounced in Coral Gables on Jan. 23, Duke is positioned ahead of Miami in the polls, largely for that overall body of work. It also helps that the Hurricanes lost to Indiana State and Florida Gulf Coast, which act as trump cards for skeptical pundits.
In contrast, the Tar Heels reside on the NCAA Tournament bubble. While the raw numbers aren't terrible for North Carolina and the only "bad" loss on their resume is against Texas, they don't have what is typically considered a "good" win outside UNLV. Making matters worse, the Heels were simply outclassed in road losses to Indiana, Miami and NC State.
3. Duke provides an opportunity for North Carolina to break from the jumbled pack of bubble teams with a much needed "good" win, but they'll need to avoid the typical slow start that has plagued their last five contests. As Inside Carolina pointed out, the Tar Heels have been outscored 48-19 before the first media timeout in those games.
Brian Barbour, of Tar Heel Blog, has a more in-depth look at UNC's woes in the opening minutes, which will only add fuel to the starting lineup debate that has been raging all season.
Now understand Roy Williams has thought of everything and he'll be more than happy to tell you that he doesn't need to be told who should or should not be starting, but is that lineup working? Then again, what lineup would work? North Carolina has a problem consistently scoring, but a corrective measure to the starting lineup might expose more defensive issues.
4. Because of those issues on defense, Duke should see an uptick in production from beyond the arc after it cooled off against Boston College. The Tar Heels have not handled teams with strong perimeter presence well, allowing Miami, NC State and Virginia to hit nearly 50% of their 3-pointers.
The Blue Devils are on track to have one of their most accurate seasons from outside the arc under Mike Krzyzewski. If that holds true on Wednesday inside Cameron Indoor Stadium, it'll be a long night for North Carolina.