UNC vs Duke: Blowout Loss Proves Duke Has No Shot in Big Dance

Austin GreenCorrespondent IMarch 4, 2012

DURHAM, NC - MARCH 03:  Austin Rivers #0 of the Duke Blue Devils watches as the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate a 88-70 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 3, 2012 in Durham, North Carolina. The North Carolina Tar Heels won the ACC regular season title with their win against the Duke Blue Devils.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

North Carolina spanked Duke 88-70 on Saturday night, proving the Blue Devils will struggle in the NCAA Tournament.

The Tar Heels annihilated Duke on senior night at Cameron Indoor, dominating from start to finish. They doubled Duke's score in the first half (48-24) and didn't let up much in the second. The 18 point win was sweet vengeance for UNC, who had to deal with the constant talk about Austin Rivers' buzzer beater a few weeks ago.

The game also served as a prime example of Duke's fatal flaws.

Carolina murdered the Blue Devils on the glass, out-rebounding them 42-22. Miles Plumlee pulled down 11 boards in his final home game, but his brother Mason mustered just four in 24 minutes. Nobody else on the team grabbed more than two.

UNC had two players snag double digit rebounds, in Tyler Zeller and John Henson. Reserve James Michael McAdoo added three offensive boards, including a sick put-back dunk in the first half.

Duke's defensive issues were on display as well. UNC controlled the tempo for all 40 minutes, relentlessly running the Blue Devils into the ground. Duke gave up 13 offensive rebounds and allowed the Tar Heels to shoot 54.5 percent from the field.

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The Tar Heels, especially Zeller, scored at will in the paint. Zeller hit nine of 11 shots, while Henson and Harrison Barnes combined for 29 points on 11 of 23 shooting.

Duke's biggest problem heading into the tournament, however, isn't rebounding or defense. It's their reliance on the three point shot.

Outside shooting is fickle, as the Blue Devils proved Saturday. They were shooting 39 percent from deep coming into the rematch with Carolina, but they hit just six of 21 threes (28.6 percent) in the biggest game of the regular season.

Ryan Kelly was ice cold (0-5), Austin Rivers wasn't much better (1-5) and Andre Dawkins was nonexistent. The Blue Devils did get a nice 33 point contribution from the Plumlees, but when their outside shooting abandons them, they're completely screwed.

The Blue Devils have an impressive 26-5 record and a strong argument for a No. 1 seed in the tournament. But given their deadly weaknesses, I'd be surprised if they make it past the Sweet 16.

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