For this year’s first Duke/UNC matchup we know the storyline that neither team is ranked for the first time since 1960 and quite frankly, the buzz has been absent leading up into Saturday’s game.
Duke, who looked to have turned the corner against Georgia Tech and Clemson, dropped a game they couldn’t to lose on Monday night against a depleted Miami team missing leading scorer Chris Lykes.
At times against the Hurricanes Coach K looked more disappointed than angry at his team’s lackluster performance. The lack of energy and assertiveness is something Coach K hopes Duke doesn’t bring into the biggest rivalry in college basketball.
This is Duke vs Carolina on the biggest stage, with both teams coming off conference losses in a must-win situation. The question is, who is more desperate? The clear answer is Duke. With no quad-one win on the season and multiple bad losses on their resume, Duke is seeking its first quad-one win of the season. According to ESPN’s Bracketologist Joe Lunardi, Duke has some work to do to make the field of 68 in March. A lot of work to be frank.
3 keys for Duke
Control the Boards:
UNC is top 5 in the country in offensive rebounding and second chance points. This is solely based on the Heels ability to play Sharpe, Bacot, Brooks, and at times Kessler for long durations. Expect the Devils to play a lot of 3-2 matchup zone, forcing UNC to shoot from the outside. Consequently with playing zone, the Blue Devils will be vulnerable when it comes to rebounding. Boxing out and dominating the boards is the most important factor on the interior. The Heels are shooting 30% from deep on the year.
Jalen Johnson Must Take Advantage of the Mismatch:
Roy Williams tends to play two big’s together, often putting them at the disadvantage of guarding craftier wings who are able to create and facilitate off the bounce (Tatum, Ingram, Parker). Jalen Johnson is the X-factor in this first rivalry game. Being assertive, attacking the lane and aggressiveness is a must. Former Duke National Champion Andre Dawkins stated yesterday on the “2 Shades of Blue Podcast” that “Jalen is better attacking the rim versus being tentative to shoot from deep.”
40 Minutes of Hell Defense
Duke is led by senior guard Jordan Goldwire, who sets the tempo with his defense. Half-court traps that fall back into a 3-2 matchup zone will help dictate the pace defensively. UNC averages 15 turnovers a game, so any type of pressure applied to the backcourt duo of Caleb Love and R.J. Davis can help create points in transition for Duke. This will present the biggest challenge for the Blue Devils and be essential if they will have a chance to win. Containing Bacot and Sharpe on the interior and finding UNC’s most consistent 3 point shooter, Kerwin Walton, will help a desperate Duke team seek their first quad 1 win of the season.