Saturday, March 7, 2009
North Carolina-Duke Prediction March 8
Duke Blue Devils at North Carolina Tar Heels
The Blue Devils will try to even this season series with the Tar Heels when they travel to Chapel Hill on Sunday afternoon. With a win, Duke can gain a split of the regular season title with UNC; Carolina wins the title out right if they win. The visiting team has won three of the last four and six of the last seven meetings. To give you an idea of the closeness of this rivalry, the teams have split their last 62 meetings with an average final of 79 to 78. Just eight miles separate these two schools on the map, but their fans will tell you they are worlds apart.
Duke 25-5, 11-4, 6-4 (away), RPI #2
UNC 26-3, 12-3, 13-1 (home), RPI #3
UNC has won 6 of the last 10
Duke has won 3 of the last 5 at the Dean Smith Center
Last Meeting - UNC 101 Duke 87 Feb 11
Ty Lawson had a season high 25 points to pace the Tar Heels on their way to 101 points on a humid night in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Both teams shot the ball well with UNC at 55 percent and Duke hitting 49 percent. UNC hit 27 of their 31 free throws, including Lawson's 9 for 9 from the line. Duke led around the halftime mark in the first and second halves, but North Carolina pulled away late to get the victory. Duke got 11 points from Nolan Smith who will miss this match up because of a concussion. Carolina seniors Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Greene will finish their careers with a 4-0 record at Duke.
What Duke Must Do To Win:
1. Slow Down Ty Lawson...
Literally. Lawson is the engine that makes the Tar Heel attack. He blistered Duke last game with 25 points. With Nolan Smith out, look for Duke to stick freshman Elliot Williams on Lawson. If Duke can prevent Lawson from getting UNC out in the fast break they have a chance to let their solid half court defense set up.
2. Keep Tar Heels Off the Glass
The Devils did a good job of this in the first meeting allowing just 12 offensive rebounds and 36 total which was 10 rebounds below UNC's average at the time. The Tar Heels rank first in the nation in total rebounds and sixth in offensive rebounds. UNC already gets a lot of possessions due to their tempo and they do not need any extra attempts at the basket. Duke is only giving up 11 offensive rebounds per game.
What North Carolina Must Do To Win:
1. Stop Dribble Penetration
Duke's offensive game is built around the dribble drive and kick and they have three good ones who do the bulk of the offensive work - Gerald Henderson, Kyle Singler, and Jon Scheyer. All three of these players can take the ball off the dribble and score or shoot from long range. North Carolina's defense has been...well..lax at times this year including the final 10 minutes of the first half in the last meeting allowing Duke to gain the lead.
2. Feed the Post
When North Carolina has the ball, they have a big advantage on the inside with Tyler Hansbrough and Deon Thompson. The two combined for 31 points in the last meeting on 12 for 20 shooting.
Nolan Smith's injury really hurts Duke's chances of slowing down Lawson, but since Williams did not play in the first match up he may provide a spark of athleticism to Duke. North Carolina is the more talented team with more match up advantages, but I think Duke gives them a strong push for 40 minutes. But in the end Hansbrough comes through for the Heels on his Senior Day.
North Carolina Wins by 6-12 points
Season: 22-22 SU through 3/1
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