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Duke vs. North Carolina: 5 Bold Predictions for Rivalry Game

Ethan GrantAnalyst IFebruary 12, 2013

Duke vs. North Carolina: 5 Bold Predictions for Rivalry Game

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    Duke and North Carolina's men's basketball teams never fail to disappoint us.

    Rain or shine, sustainable economy or not and no matter who is in the White House, the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels always give us one of the best games that college basketball has to offer each season. That's one of the reasons it's one of the top five sports rivalries of all time, and it's one of the reasons this year's two-game slate won't fail to disappoint, either.

    No. 2 Duke has been rolling along as usual this year, with only losses to North Carolina State and Miami on its ledger so far. Mike Krzyzewski's team has overcome a huge loss—forward Ryan Kelly—along the way and will likely have two more meetings against Miami to decide the ACC champion.

    It's been a much rougher go for North Carolina, losers of seven games this season and owners of only a 6-4 record in ACC play. The latest loss—a blowout by surging Miami—didn't hurt the Tar Heels as much as it could have in the standings (h/t TheACC.com), and they'll have a relatively light schedule the rest of the way as Roy Williams tries to push this team into the NCAA tournament on a positive note.

    When these two teams square off, one thing is sure—fireworks better be on hand. It's prediction time for this legendary showcase, and here are five for Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke Fans Will Find a New Chant for a UNC Star

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    Duke fans are downright ruthless.

    The Cameron Crazies will be at it again this year, especially with the team sitting at No. 2 in the AP Top 25 poll and a loss at this stage of the season unthinkable.

    Fans really got after it against North Carolina State, chanting at guard Tyler Lewis when he was at the free-throw line in the second half. Some of the crowd reportedly chanted, "How's your grandma?" at the freshman guard, which is particularly chilling since he lost his grandmother the week before the game (per Jay Busbee of Yahoo! Sports).

    As tasteless as that is, it won't stop the Crazies from getting something going on Wednesday night. Whether they attack the poor conference record that UNC currently holds or a specific player, you can bet the "creative" juices will be flowing in preparation for the rivalry match.

Expect a Total Over 160

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    Fifteen of the last 16 games between these rivals have featured one of the two teams score at least 75 points. Both squads are active on offense yet again this season and currently sit at Nos. 9 and 11 in the NCAA rankings for points per game (78.3 for UNC, 78.2 for Duke).

    Throw in roughly seven three-pointers per game from each team, and this one is setting up to be an offensive showdown at Cameron Indoor. The Devils haven't played outstanding defense in key moments this season (see both losses) but are capable of putting together a solid stretch.

    The same can be said of UNC, which just felt the wrath of the Miami offense on Saturday as the 'Canes put up 87 points on the Heels. Still, North Carolina has no problem scoring points, as evidenced by the five games it has put up at least 90 points this season.

    Although both of these coaches preach defense first in pursuit of national championships, the offense is what's working for them right now. With future NBA stars on both teams and statistics pointing at a high-scoring affair, take the over for this matchup, and don't be surprised when the total exceeds 160 points.

James Michael McAdoo Will Look Like Most NBA-Ready Prospect

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    Duke and North Carolina both had 17 former players in the NBA at the start of the 2012-13 NBA season (courtesy of RPIRatings.com), tying for second place behind Kentucky.

    Outside of those three programs, that kind of talent production is largely unequaled by any other school in the country, and looking at the two rosters this season, there are at least four players who should be drafted come June.

    Ryan Kelly is one, and we won't get to see him play (per Sporting News), but we will get to see James Michael McAdoo, relative of former NBA MVP and NBA champion Bob McAdoo. The bloodlines won't help him against the Dukies, but his talent certainly will, and he can solidify his place as a first-round pick with a solid showing over the next month or so.

    That starts with Duke, and what better way to burst onto the national scene than a big game against your school's biggest rival? Averaging 14.9 points and 8.2 rebounds (leaders in both categories at UNC), he's put this team on his back at times and is doing all he can to push the squad to an NCAA tourney berth. 

    Matched up against Mason Plumlee, the sophomore will have a chance to prove his NBA value against another prospect. A bad showing against Miami was just a blip on the radar for McAdoo—he'll deliver in this rivalry game.

Duke Guard Seth Curry Will Have a Big Game

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    In five career games against the Tar Heels, it's been a mixed bag for Duke guard Seth Curry. In a way, you could say those games are similar to his up-and-down career at Duke.

    Expected to be the reincarnation of his brother Stephen, Curry has failed to live up to those lofty expectations. High points of his career include multiple 20-plus point games in big moments, while negative ones include no-shows in losses to high-profile programs (including last year's tournament stinker against Lehigh).

    Still, the box scores from Curry's last two games against UNC make it pretty clear—if he's on, the Devils will follow.

    Last year, the senior scored 15 points, shot 50 percent from the floor and hit four three-pointers in Duke's win in Chapel Hill and followed that up with a 3-of-13 shooting clunker in an 88-70 loss to close the regular season. It carried over to the ACC and NCAA tournament; he shot 1-of-9 against Lehigh.

    He's really picked it up over the past five games and is averaging 16.8 points per game this season overall. The three-point marksman can make a name for himself to scouts and NBA personnel with a big showing, and he'll do just that in his final game in Cameron versus UNC—which leads to a pretty obvious prediction for the next slide.

Duke Wins This One Going Away

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    Things are setting up for Duke to win this game big.

    For starters, the Blue Devils aren't playing keep away with the rest of the ACC; they are chasing the Miami Hurricanes after an embarrassing loss in Coral Gables.

    Since that loss to Miami, the Devils are 5-0 (even without Ryan Kelly). They have the country's second-best BPI and survived a major scare to Boston College on Sunday night that should give them momentum leading up to tipoff on Wednesday.

    North Carolina is by no stretch reeling, but it has yet to pull together any kind of signature win that makes you think it's ready to travel to Cameron Indoor and knock off No. 2 Duke. Losses to No. 1 Indiana and No. 8 Miami by 20-plus points confirm that theory.

    While the Devils have a good chance to jump out early and never look back, North Carolina's scoring prowess will at least keep this one close into the second half. However, Duke can also score, and when the final buzzer sounds, the Blue Devils will be able to go focus on a potential ACC-deciding matchup with Miami before seeing UNC one more time this year.

     

    Prediction

    Duke 95, North Carolina 77

     


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