Game Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs North Carolina Tar Heels

Brian HoraceGame Previews, General InformationLeave a Comment


Duke (24-6, 12-5)


North Carolina (22-8, 11-6)

When: March 3 | 8:15 PM (ET)
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium - Durham, NC

Watch Live: ESPN

March 3rd marks not only the end of the regular season for the Duke Blue Devils but also the end of the Cameron career of senior guard Grayson Allen. Allen has worn both the white hat of the hero and the black hat of the villain - depending on your perspective. The Jacksonville native has been a lighting rod for ire from opposing fans and sometimes the savior for Duke on the court. His very public meltdowns have been dissected and discussed at length but his talent is unmistakable. Allen could be the last of a dying breed at Duke, a 4 year player who has made an impact every year that he's been in uniform. Allen has played with many of the one-and-done players that the program has chased and landed. He's had to deal with playing with virtually a different lineup every year he's been at Duke and somehow has still been productive and carved out his niche and his role on each iteration.

Duke will need all that Allen can muster in this game. The first matchup against the Tar Heels saw the senior only manage to score 9 points and while Allen did assist on 7 made baskets, Duke will need an aggressive Allen in order to take down the Heels.

North Carolina outplayed, out-hustled and out-performed the Blue Devils in their February 8th game in Chapel Hill. Duke was out rebounded by the smaller Tar Heels who put together a masterful second half performance. Duke was also only able to turn the Tar Heels over twice in the game while the Devils turned the ball over 8 times which led to 11 Tar Heel points. Duke was also doubled up by the Tar Heels in fast break points.

Duke is a different team at this point in the season, putting much more effort and energy on the defensive end. Committing primarily to the 2-3 zone has worked well for the Blue Devils who held 4 straight opponents to under 60 points a game until running into a very feisty Virginia Tech team who took down the Devils in their last time out.

Duke has struggled to re-integrate Marvin Bagley III back into the lineup and he and Grayson Allen have yet to click at the same time. This will be Duke's last chance to get it right before the post season. Duke will need Bagley and fellow freshman Wendell Carter to play stronger in the paint versus UNC and the offense overall to be much more efficient. While 8 turnovers is not a lot (Duke had 8 in the first game) against a Tar Heel team that does not turn the ball over and is eager to turn Duke's into fast break opportunities - it cannot happen. Duke has to value the ball, value the possession and keep moving offensively.

Defensively, Duke needs to limit second chance points and defend the perimeter much better. North Carolina did not shoot the ball particularly well from beyond the arc in game 1 but Duke allowed Cameron Johnson and Kenny Williams to shoot 50% from 3.

  • For the 247th time in a rivalry that dates to 1920, No. 5 Duke and No. 9 North Carolina meet Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the 2018 regular-season finale.
  • The game marks the 45th time that Duke and UNC areplaying when each team is ranked in the AP top 10 (22-22).It’s the first top-10 meeting in the series since 2012.
  • No venue has hosted more games involving top 10 teams than Cameron Indoor Stadium’s 48. The Blue Devils are 37-11in top-10 vs. top-10 games at Cameron.
  • Duke and Michigan State are the only teams ranked in the top 15 of KenPom’s offensive efficiency and defensiveefficiency ratings. The Blue Devils are second in offense(124.4) and 15th in defense (95.3).
  • Duke celebrates Senior Night for Grayson Allen on Saturday.Allen ranks 18th at Duke in career points (1,889) and fifthall-time at Duke in three-pointers (268). He is 58-6 in hiscareer at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
  • Saturday’s game is Mike Krzyzewski’s 1,300th as Duke’s head coach. Of the games he’s coached at Duke, 1,154 (88.8percent) have been as a ranked team. The Blue Devils are941-213 (.815) as a ranked team under Coach K.
  • Freshman Marvin Bagley III is second in the ACC in scoring (20.7) and leads in rebounding (11.1). He’s aiming to be the13th player in ACC history (and first freshman) to lead theconference in scoring and rebounding.
  • The Blue Devils are 79-56 (.585) overall under Coach K when both teams are ranked in the top 10.

Projected Starting Lineups:


F Marvin Bagley III
F Wendell Carter Jr.
G Gary Trent Jr.
G Grayson Allen
G Trevon Duval


North Carolina:

F Luke Maye
F Theo Pinson
G Kenny Williams
G Cam Johnson
G Joel Berry

Lineup Comparison:

First NameLast NamePointsReboundsAssistsStealsClass
GaryTrent Jr.
MarvinBagley III20.711.11.60.9Freshman
WendellCarter Jr.
Duke FT Percentage
North Carolina FT Percentage
Duke Scoring Average
North Carolina Scoring Average
Duke FG Percentage
North Carolina FG Percentage
Duke 3pt Percentage
North Carolina 3pt Percentage

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