ACC Basketball: Why Duke Will Beat North Carolina Again and Win the Conference
If you thought the first chapter of North Carolina vs. Duke was exciting, just wait until the teams face off again with the regular season ACC championship on the line.
On Saturday, March 3rd, the Blue Devils will take on the Tar Heels after beating them on their home court a few weeks ago.
The stakes have been raised even higher than just your typical rivalry game, as it is both teams' final ACC conference game.
Here's why Duke will win its second matchup against North Carolina and the ACC regular season championship.
1. Game Plan
With a clear size and frontcourt disadvantage coming into a huge rivalry game, Coach Mike Krzyzewski drew up an excellent game plan that was able to not only keep Duke in the game but help it excel past its rival.
Although North Carolina has already seen this game plan and will probably be preparing for it, Coach K understands that and will draw up a modified version of the previously successful plan that will keep his team one step ahead of North Carolina despite its clear-cut advantages.
Roy Williams and the rest of the Tar Heels coaching staff won't fold by any means, but Coach K seems to know how to keep his Blue Devils one step ahead of their opponents.
2. Home-Court Advantage
While it didn't result in a victory for North Carolina, home-court advantage will have an impact in this game.
With big rivalries, home-court advantage seems to play less of a role, as players from the visiting team seem to use the intensity of the rivalry as fuel that overrides the other team's home advantage.
However, even with the heat of the rivalry fueling the visiting players, Duke's home-court advantage will play a significant role for the Blue Devils. It may just be the edge they need in order to win.
3. Perimeter Shooting
This game will come down to perimeter shooting. In the first UNC-Duke game, the Blue Devils took 36 three-point attempts. North Carolina took six.
Duke would go on to make 14 of those 36 three-pointers (38.9%), and North Carolina would make one (16.7%).
North Carolina doesn't boast three-point shooting as one of its strengths and will most likely resort to the inside game.
However, if Duke's shooting is on like it was in the teams' previous matchup, then the Blue Devils should prevail in this one as well.
Score: Duke 82, North Carolina 79
The lead won't expand beyond 10 points at any time during the game and will probably come down the last shot, just like in the previous North Carolina-Duke matchup.
Top Performers: Seth Curry (Duke) 27 points, Tyler Zeller (North Carolina) 22 points
Austin Rivers may try to do too much in this game after having nailed the game-winning shot in the first game between these two teams. He will still have a relatively good game, but Seth Curry will step up for Duke with some big three-pointers.
Tyler Zeller, who put up 23 points in the first matchup, will have another strong night during his senior season and should be a major presence in the paint.