ACC Tournament 2012: Bold Predictions for Inevitable Duke-North Carolina Matchup

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IMarch 10, 2012

DURHAM, NC - MARCH 03:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels drives to the basket on Miles Plumlee #21 of the Duke Blue Devils during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 3, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It is just a matter of time until North Carolina easily dispatches Duke to win the 2012 ACC tournament. 

The Tar Heels still have to beat North Carolina State, and Duke will have to handle their business against Florida State before these two are locked into the championship game. But they both will. We all know that. We've always known that. 

This conference has been about these two powerhouses all season. That is not going to change now. Neither is the fact that North Carolina is a bad matchup for Duke. 

Despite this being a rough matchup for Duke, they were able to go on the road and upset the Tar Heels by one point on a thrilling last-second shot by Austin Rivers. 

Duke was in a position to pull off that thrilling win on the strength of their fabulous three-point shooting. They drained 14-36 from behind the arc. That was 13 more than the Tar Heels made. 

That game was far more an aberration than a reality. 

What is much closer to the reality of what will happen when these two meet is what happened in the two rivals' second meeting of the year. 

The Tar Heels won that game by 18 points.

North Carolina realized that Duke would not be able to beat them without destroying them from distance, and they adjusted their defense accordingly. The Tar Heels didn't help as much off of perimeter guys and were much quicker to close out. 

This resulted in them holding Duke to 6-of-21 shooting from three. Not all of that number was the Tar Heels defense, though. Duke clearly wasn't shooting as well as they were in the first matchup, though good defense can cause shooters to go into funks. 

Bold Prediction: Duke will shoot under 20 percent from three-point range

North Carolina will employ a similar defense the third time, and Duke will not be able to overcome it. That is due to the Tar Heels' immense advantage on the interior. 

In the two games these teams have played this season, North Carolina has out-rebounded Duke, 83-53. 

Bold Prediction: North Carolina will have 19 more rebounds than Duke

For a team to overcome that kind of deficiency on the glass, they have very little room for error, and the Tar Heels will force Duke into a giant room of errors.  

Bold Prediction: North Carolina 86, Duke 77