Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Carolina - Duke

Taking one last look at the North Carolina - Duke game tonight with, of course, a prediction on the outcome. I am going to take a look at each team's strengths and weaknesses and how they match up with one another.

SIPictures.com

North Carolina
Strengths:
Depth - The Tar Heels can go 9 deep with quality players; first four off the bench could start for 3/4 of Division I

Frontcourt - Branden Wright and Tyler Hansbrough form one of the best combos inside in the country
Athleticism - Speed, Speed, Speed especially on the perimeter
Length - Even at the guard and small forward spots the Heels are very tall yet very athletic still
Coaching - Roy has been in plenty of big games and has proven he can win the big one now

Weaknesses:
Youth
- Despite all that talent, most of these guys are freshman and sophomore and still prone to mistakes

Level of Intensity - Talent is not an issue, coaching is not an issue, but like last Saturday's effort (or lack their of) can be an issue. If you don't play with intensity, you are pissing into the wind

Duke
Strengths:
Home Court Advantage - Nobody does it like the Cameron Crazies and not too many make it out with a win. Plus, Duke is an underdog at home if they needed an extra incentive.

Defense - As always, Coach K has a group of guys who know how to play defense for 40 minutes
Intensity - Just feeding off the crowd will get you fired up to play, but Coach K makes sure it happens
Coaching - Coach K is one of the top coaches in college with three national titles to show for it

Weaknesses:
Frontcourt - After McRoberts this team is very thin. Duke has struggled defending teams with a post presence

Athleticism - This team is well disciplined, but they can't afford to play a run n' gun style
Depth - The Blue Devils really only play seven guys, therefore any kind of foul trouble puts them in a bind
Scoring - Defense is not a problem, but getting the ball in the hoop has been. Paulus has not stepped up at point and Jon Scheyer is their only consistent deep threat. Duke has made a living off a three pointers in years past.

Matchup:
I think North Carolina's inside duo of Wright and Hansbrough is too much for McRoberts to handle. The speed of PG Tywon Lawson will wear Paulus out and cause the sophomore to make the same mistakes he has all year. Duke's best chance is to get North Carolina rattled early in a hostile environment. The Devils must take advantage of turnovers because the Tar Heels will have some due to their fast pace style. Duke must slow this game down to a half court battle where they can execute on an even level with North Carolina.


Prediction:
North Carolina 72 Duke 66


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