- Curl up in a corner and hibernate until the NFL Draft in April.
- Get pumped up for NCAA college basketball’s rivalry week!
I prefer the latter. The headliner for rivalry week: the North Carolina Tar Heels matching up against the much hated Duke Blue Devils. Like Ali/Frazier, Yankees/Red Sox, and Michigan/Ohio State football, this game that is one of the greatest rivalries in sports, period. Rivalry week is a great tune up for all of those who need to catch up on their college basketball before heading into March Madness in just a few short weeks. God knows that everyone in America fills out a bracket or is in a pool somewhere.
UNC came into the year ranked number one with lofty expectations. Due to the return of basically the entire team from last season – specifically 7-foot senior center Tyler Zeller, 6’11” junior forward John Henson, and sophomore scoring threat Harrison Barnes. Aside from a few bumps in the road, the Tar Heels have been winning by large margins, leading the nation in points per game and rebounds per game with 84.9 and 45.9 respectively.
One of those bumps was at Florida State on January 14th, where the Tar Heels endured one of the worst losses in school history, losing 90-57. Florida State is having a great year (they beat Duke also), and to their credit, they played a great game – offensively they couldn’t miss! North Carolina was noticeably anemic throughout the entire game, leaving the Carolina faithful wondering what the heck happened? I probably could have scored against Carolina that day. Anyway, another unexpected blow hit the Tar Heels five nights later against Virginia Tech. When starting junior guard Dexter Strickland tore his ACL, ending his season basically on the spot. Strickland was UNC’s best perimeter defender. A strong perimeter defense is exactly what Carolina will need against a Duke team, like all other Duke teams, thrives on the 3-point shot.
Who isn’t excited for Carolina/Duke February 8th? I can’t wait for the Tobacco Road rivals to meet for Act I. This is the perfect game to watch at a sports bar. Which is what I would like to do… to bad I’m in the poor house right now. Duke has been playing good basketball most of the season as well, both teams are ranked top 10 in the nation. North Carolina will be taking a 31 game home winning streak into the match-up against Duke, battling for supremacy in the ACC. Carolina and Duke split last years regular season’s meetings, and met in the ACC tournament finals. Where Duke went on to earn their 19th ACC title.
Normally a highly emotional game when these teams step onto the floor, there is no love lost between these two squads. I wouldn’t expect anything to be different this time around.
To me, Carolina thrives on transition points, and an efficient half court offense, not a bombs away 3-point attack. So I hope that they (mainly Harrison Barnes) do not get sucked into attempting to match Duke 3 for 3 if Duke gets off to a quick start. To Roy Williams and the Tar Heels if any of you are reading – stick to what got you here!
Prediction – You didn’t think I would actually pick Duke did you? Of course I’m going to take Carolina: 68 – 62. Tyler Zeller comes through with another double digit point, and rebound effort. John Henson steps up and blocks some big shots. Let’s go Heels!!