The No. 7-ranked Blue Devils will be making the eight-mile drive up to Chapel Hill on Wednesday night where they be competing against the unranked North Carolina Tar Heels. This game is one of the best rivalry games in all of college sports, and although the Tar Heels have had a less than stellar season thus far, it will no doubt be exciting to watch.
There are really only three key factors they will come into play this Wednesday night. First is the turnover ratio of this game and how it will play a role. Second is the shooting percentage of each team. And lastly is the question of whether or not Duke can find a way to win on the road.
1. Turnover Ratio
Because this is such a great school rivalry, it really won’t matter that UNC is unranked and having an “off” year. This game is going to be close all the way to the finish; I don’t think anyone can doubt that.
So what are the key factors into winning this big game? My prediction is the team that wins the turnover comparison will be victorious at the end of the night. Too often you see a ranked team getting knocked off by unranked schools because they were simply outhustled and outworked.
So far the Tar Heels are averaging 16.3 turnovers a game. Their opponents on the other hand are averaging 14.8 per game. This puts UNC at a -1.5 turnover comparison for the season. The Blue Devils on the other hand are +3.4 with their 11.9 turnovers per game.
Whoever can win the turnover battle will most likely be in the driver seat throughout the night. Hard work and getting loose balls win games.
Another big key to winning this game will be through the shooting aspect of the game. I think that this will most likely pertain to the perimeter shooting for both teams. To this point, UNC has shot 36 percent from beyond the arc; Duke, a respective 39 percent. Both Duke and North Carolina are extremely close in their shooting from the three-point land.
I believe that if either one of these teams can knock down 40-to-45 percent of their shots from deep, then it is going to put pressure on their opponents to put up tough shots and force more bad situations.
It should be interesting which team comes ready to shoot and take smart shots.
3. Can Duke win on the road?
The Duke Blue Devils have had a terrible go of it thus far on the season, suffering all of their current losses on the road. Duke is currently 13-0 at home and 2-4 on the road. For the season they are 19-4, but each one of those losses has come while they are the visiting team.
The drive for Duke is just eight miles for them to get to Chapel Hill up the road. However, it may just be the single toughest place for them to play this entire season.
Duke and North Carolina are no doubt the teams to watch this week as once again the greatest college rivalry of all of college basketball will get together and battle. All stats need to be thrown out of the window though on this one as it will be an excellent test for both teams, no matter what their current records may say.