UNC Basketball: North Carolina Must Crash Glass to Defeat Duke

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UNC Basketball: North Carolina Must Crash Glass to Defeat Duke
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

If there's one distinct advantage North Carolina has headed into its matchup with No. 2 Duke on Wednesday, it's rebounding.

The 16-7 Tar Heels not only rank fifth in the nation in rebounds per game, they rank 14th in offensive rebounds per contest.

On the contrary, the Blue Devils rank 161st in rebounds per game and they've allowed 10.6 offensive rebounds per contest, ranked 277th in the nation.

In both of their losses to N.C. State and Miami (FL) this season, the Blue Devils were out-rebounded. They allowed a combined 17 offensive rebounds in those defeats.

Duke outclasses North Carolina on offense. Mike Krzyzewski's squad ranks 11th and 27th in points per game and field-goal percentage, respectively.

And even though the Blue Devils aren't a top defensive team, they still play better defense than the Tar Heels. North Carolina ranks 230th in opponents' points per game and 90th in opponents' field-goal percentage.

It makes North Carolina's work on the boards all the more important against Duke on Wednesday.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Mason Plumlee won't give much ground on the glass.

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While the Tar Heels have used a team-wide approach on the glass this season, James Michael McAdoo is undoubtedly their best rebounder. In that regard, the sophomore forward will be crucial for North Carolina on Wednesday. After three straight games of collecting double-digit rebounds, McAdoo has posted a combined eight rebounds in his past two contests.

Freshman forward Brice Johnson (averaging 4.2 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per contest) will also be important for the Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It's possible that he gets a bit more playing time against the Blue Devils.

As for the Blue Devils, Mason Plumlee is obviously their biggest threat on the glass (perhaps their only true threat). He's averaging 10.7 rebounds per game this season, good for eighth in the country.

The battle on the interior between Plumlee and North Carolina may determine whether the Tar Heels pull off the upset or get embarrassed in Durham. 

 

All team statistics courtesy of TeamRankings.com

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