There are few rivalries in all of sports as fierce and consistently competitive as Duke and North Carolina in college basketball.
Both schools will begin the 2010-2011 season with high expectations. Duke will likely be the No. 1 team in America in the opening poll, with North Carolina possibly ranked in the top 10 as well.
However, there's nothing particularly newsworthy about that—at least one of these programs has begun the season in the top 10 in 28 of the last 29 seasons.
It seems that every few years, one of these storied rivals overtakes the other as the dominant team in the ACC and, often, the dominant team in America.
Last year, the Blue Devils swept the Tar Heels on their way to winning a national championship.
In 2008, North Carolina swept Duke on their way to a national title.
Will the upcoming season bring another shift in the rivalry?
Who will have the edge?
Having already examined who's gone and who's coming back for each squad, we're taking a look at who each team is bringing in so we can determine who has the advantage in the 2010-2011 Duke-North Carolina rivalry.
Duke and North Carolina both bring in elite talent this season.
More importantly, both bring in talent that should meet specific team needs, filling voids left by players who graduated or left early for the NBA.
Duke will replace Jon Scheyer with Kyrie Irving, who has the potential to be the most talented point guard Duke has recruited in a decade.
Irving has great speed, excellent handle, solid passing and floor control, and an unbelievable knack for putting the ball in the basket.
Irving gives Duke a dimension at the point that they haven't had since Jason Williams graduated in 2002—an athletic point guard who can score from anywhere on the court and demand enough defensive attention to get his teammates easy shot opportunities.
There isn't a point guard in the 2010 class as highly regarded as Irving, especially from an offensive production standpoint. If his impact at Duke is close to what is expected of him (Coach K is allowing him to be the first player ever to wear No. 1 at Duke), Duke could have a dominant backcourt next season.
Though he isn't technically a part of Duke's 2010 recruiting class, transfer Seth Curry (brother of Stephen Curry) will join Irving in the backcourt next year.
Curry led all NCAA freshmen in scoring during his freshman season at Liberty in 2008-09. He averaged 20.2 points per game for the Flames, and the Blue Devils will look for him to provide instant offense next season.
Reports from Duke practices last season said that Curry was the best three-point shooter on the team, and it wasn't even close.
That's a big statement when you consider how well guys like Andre Dawkins (who was originally part of the 2010 class), Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, and Scheyer can shoot the ball.
Duke also brings in forward Josh Hairston and point guard Tyler Thornton to round out their 2010 class.
Hairston is a versatile 6'8" forward who, at first glance, will undoubtedly be compared to Lance Thomas.
That comparison isn't entirely accurate, however. While the two have a similar motor, Hairston is a versatile offensive player. He can shoot from behind the arc, and he has a pretty impressive collection of interior moves as well.
Hairston will fight for minutes with Ryan Kelly as the backup power forward, but he has the potential to make some noise as a freshman.
Thornton is a point guard known for his leadership and defense. With Duke's loaded backcourt, he isn't likely to get a lot of burn next season, but he gives Duke another point guard in the rotation in case of injury or foul trouble.
Meanwhile, North Carolina brings in some much needed support on the perimeter with one of the most highly touted classes in the country.
The jewel of their recruiting class is Harrison Barnes, the No. 1 ranked high school player in the nation.
Barnes, who at one time was thought to be leaning heavily towards Duke, is an extremely versatile wing player with an uncommon work ethic. He does everything well and possesses a solid frame with considerable athleticism.
His arrival at Chapel Hill instantly gives North Carolina something they were sorely missing last year—a player with the ability to create his own shot consistently.
Barnes can score from anywhere on the floor with apparent ease. He will likely be the Tar Heels first scoring option from day one. He could very well be one of the best players in the ACC, perhaps even the country, as a freshman.
Many think Barnes could have a Carmelo Anthony-like freshman year. If that happens, expect North Carolina to be Final Four contenders once again.
The Tar Heels also bring in Reggie Bullock, a 6'6" shooting guard with a reputation as a deadly shooter.
Bullock's size will allow him to shoot over most defenders, and he can finish above the rim as well.
He will compete with Dexter Strickland (and possibly Will Graves) at the shooting guard spot. While Bullock doesn't possess Strickland's speed, his size and shooting touch could give Reggie enough of an edge to start in the backcourt.
The final addition to UNC's backcourt is Kendall Marshall.
Marshall is known as the best passing point guard in the 2010 class. He doesn't possess remarkable speed, but he is a heady player who understands how to take care of the ball and get his teammates involved.
While not a high-volume scorer, his passing ability is something that will certainly translate into more points on the board for North Carolina. Though he may not start over Larry Drew from day one, Marshall will definitely get minutes and an opportunity to challenge for the lead point guard role.
North Carolina also adds Alabama transfer Justin Knox.
Although, Knox will only be in Chapel Hill for one season, as he is a grad-student with one year of eligibility left. His impact is unlikely to be significant (he has never been a go-to player at Alabama), but he gives the Tar Heels some much needed post depth to help compensate for the transfer of David and Travis Wear to UCLA.
So who brings in the most talent?
On paper, North Carolina has the better recruiting class. Scout.com ranks the Tar Heels incoming class as the fourth best in the nation with Duke listed at No. 8.
In reality, it's much tougher to determine who has the most incoming talent.
Both programs bring in sure-fire superstars with Barnes and Irving, the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the class respectively.
The Tar Heels get a sharpshooter in Bullock. The Blue Devils get one in Curry: who doesn't factor into the recruiting rankings, but has the potential to be a big time player.
Both schools get highly touted point guards, but the edge goes to Duke in this category. Marshall may be the best passing point guard in the class, but Irving is the best point guard in the class.
In the end, though, North Carolina gets the nod for adding the most talent.
Barnes is the type of player who doesn't come along often for any program, even a program like North Carolina. He's talented enough to take a team to the NCAA tournament without much support, and he'll have plenty of support at North Carolina.
Bullock and Marshall won't necessarily be stars as freshmen, but both are ready to contribute right away fill major voids (consistency at the point and three point shooting) from last season's Tar Heel team.
Knox is a last-second contingency plan, but he will at least give North Carolina some depth in the post. He brings significant experience to the table as well.
For Duke, Irving and Curry will be impact players right out of the gate. Hairston and Thornton aren't likely to get a lot of minutes, however, with the number of experienced players ahead of them at their respective positions.
Granted, the Blue Devils don't need their new players to have the same impact that North Carolina needs its freshmen to have. But, when it comes to an instant influx of talent, North Carolina wins out.
Will beating Duke on the recruiting trail translate into beating them on the court?
Maybe. Maybe not.
At the very least, if Duke sweeps North Carolina once again, Barnes and the rest of the incoming Tar Heels will make Duke earn it.
Win or lose, 82-to-50 won't happen next season.
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