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UNC - Duke Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 03/05/2010

Series History

This is the 229th meeting in the rich history of this series. North Carolina leads the all-time series 130-98 and has won six of the last eight meetings. However, the Blue Devils took the first meeting in Chapel Hill and with this one at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke will be heavily favored for the sweep. North Carolina has won four straight meetings in Durham.

What’s at Stake?

Widely regarded as the greatest rivalry in all of college sports, this final meeting of the 2010 season will be missing a lot of the luster that usually comes with it. There is a lot on the line for Duke, which is coming off a loss at Maryland, putting it into a tie with the Terrapins for first place in the ACC. Duke will need to win most likely since Maryland is at Virginia earlier in the day to win the conference.

Even though the Blue Devils are tied, they would claim the top seed based on tie-breaker advantages. That would help them get back into the running for a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament as that fourth and final top spot remains up for grabs. It is Senior Night against their biggest rival so the final home game for Jon Scheyer and Lance Thomas will make it even more special.

As for the Tar Heels, it has been a complete disaster of a season following a National Championship a year ago. They lost a ton from that title team and coming into this year as a top six team was obviously a little too lofty. The only thing on the line tonight for North Carolina is pride but in this rivalry, that can sometimes mean more than anything else. But can North Carolina even play for that?

A win here will get North Carolina to 17-14 on the season but it is still a long ways off from getting into the NCAA Tournament. Right now even the NIT and CBI Tournaments are out of reach so the only thing that the Tar Heels can hope for is a run to the title of the ACC Championship. North Carolina has won two straight for the first time since December so it may be peaking at the right time but it still could be too late.

Tar Heels Offensive Struggles

Part of the reason for the North Carolina struggles has been because of its offense. Despite shooting a solid 45.4 percent from the floor, the Tar Heels have not scored 80 points in a game since December 30th against Albany when they tallied 87 points. This is a stretch of 16 consecutive games and the previous long such stretch in the Roy Williams era was a five-game streak in 2003-04.

History will be made if North Carolina cannot make it to 80 points Saturday. The Tar Heels have gone their first 15 conference games without scoring 80 points and they have never gone an entire season without pouring in 80 points at least once in ACC action. It won’t be easy as Duke is allowing just 62.2 ppg on 40.5 percent shooting and held North Carolina to 54 points on 34.5 percent shooting in the first meeting.

Other Notable Numbers

Taking care of the ball has been an issue for the Tar Heels as well. They have a 1.01 assist/turnover ratio which is decent since it is above the break even point but after posting a 1.43 ratio last season, that is a major disappointment. Conversely, Duke has a 1.28 ratio this season and that jumps to 1.56 at home where its ratio margin is +0.87. Meanwhile the Tar Heels ratio drops to 0.77 on the road where its margin is a dismal -0.48.

Free throw shooting is also a big issue as the Tar Heels are shooting only 65.3 percent from the charity stripe which is over 10 percent less than last season. The percentage drops to a nightmarish 61.6 percent in road games. The Blue Devils are hitting 75.9 percent from the line this season and that is nearly the same percentage in its 16 home games where is drops slightly to 75.6 percent.

Notable Trends

Duke is 7-0 ATS in its last seven games following a non-cover and it is 12-3-1 ATS in its last 16 home games.

North Carolina is 1-7 ATS in its last eight games following a win while going just 2-6 ATS in its last eight road games against teams with a winning home record.

The road team has covered five straight games in this series.

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