Back in November, Roy Williams and North Carolina struggled, at one point losing three of five games. When critics raised hell about a second consecutive down year, they must have been forgetting that Carolina lost 13 players to the NBA, to transfer, or to graduation in the last two seasons alone. Considering that, a 17-5 record with this team may be Roy's most impressive job in six years at the helm in Chapel Hill. For a team who's been questioned for most of the year, this was the convincing win that they needed heading into the big game.
A few miles down the road, Duke is also coming off of a commanding win on Saturday when they ran NC State off the court in the first eight minutes of play. The Blue Devils got an outstanding performance from Mason Plumlee, who had his best game of the year scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Duke has bounced back nicely from their debacle at the Garden last Saturday, but there are still glaring weaknesses that are only exposed when they play long, athletic defensively-minded teams.
If you believe in logical reason, than the law of deductive reasoning will tell you that since North Carolina beat Florida State, and Florida State beat Duke, then North Carolina will beat Duke. Thankfully, sports has nothing to do with logic so we can all take the revolvers away from our heads now.
Instead, the Cameron Indoor Arena effect will be in full effect come Wednesday. The inexperienced Tar Heels will have a deer in the head-lights look, Duke will most likely take nine charges in the first four minutes, and every Blue Devil will have hit a three-pointer by the under 12:00 time out... Coach K will also have complete control of all three referees consciences prior to the opening tip.
Seriously, though, Duke will cause a turnover prone Carolina team problems on offense, and the Blue Devils have the size and athleticism down low to bang with Barnes, Zeller, and Henson. If Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, and Smith come out cold from beyond the arc, the Heels will hang around for a while, but I expect the Blue Devils to defend home court and take over sole possession of first place in the ACC.