Preview: Duke Blue Devils [23-7, 11-6] vs. UNC Tar Heels [25-6, 13-4] by @randydunson

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#17/14 Duke Blue Devils [23-7, 11-6] vs. #5/6 UNC Tar Heels [25-6, 13-4]

March 4, 2017 • 8:20 PM ET • Chapel, NC • Dean E. Smith Center

Media: ESPN/ACC Network, Duke IMG Network Radio, Watch ESPN app

By Randy Dunson [Note: Please direct comments, suggestions, etc. to @RandyDunson]

 

The matchup:

Great Site w/ Great ContentSaturday Duke travels to Chapel Hill to face the North Carolina Tar Heels for game 2 of this year’s series. Both teams have had erratic last weeks of the ACC season with Duke losing 2 in a row before beating a good Florida State team in Cameron and UNC losing on the road to a struggling UVA team. With both teams assured a top 4 seed in the NCAA tournament and UNC all but assured the top seed in the ACC Tournament Duke is still chasing the double bye and some much needed rest. Health has been an issue for Duke from day 1 so why should the end of the season be any different. Duke limps into the final regular season game of the season with senior forward Amile Jefferson still bothered by a sore foot and Grayson Allen nursing a bum ankle. Neither injury will likely keep them out of games but may limit their minutes heading into tourney season. If this was earlier in the season Coach K may have likely rested them but with both probably going into their final stints in Blue Devil uniforms unless either injury becomes grave it’s hard to see any out for significant time. UNC has it’s lineup at full strength with Isaiah Hicks and Theo Pinson both having had ample time to become re-acclimated after missing time. No one needs to be sold on the rivals factor – these teams want to beat each other. The history has been well documented, the battles between these storied programs live on long past the players eligibility. The games are near short on drama with each player vying to hit the shot or spark the run that will be talked about each time these two teams meet.

Team Overviews

Duke

No. 17 Duke will travel to Chapel Hill Saturday where a win over No. 5 North Carolina would result in the third regular-season sweep of the rival Tar Heels in the last five years. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has won 15 road games against AP top-five teams, the most in the history of the poll. Despite rotation players having combined to miss 43 games due to injury this season, Duke leads the nation with 10 wins over RPI top-50 teams. Duke ranks second in the ACC with an average of 8.9 threes per game in ACC play. On average, Duke outscores opponents by 10.4 points from three-point territory on the year. For the 14th time in program history and first since 2010, Duke has three active 1,000-point scorers in Grayson Allen (1,323), Luke Kennard (1,020), and Amile Jefferson (1,010).

Kennard ranks third in the ACC with an average of 35.5 minutes per game. Despite the workload, he leads the ACC in three-point percentage (.454) and ranks second in scoring (19.8). Jefferson has blocked a career-high 46 shots this season and needs one more to move into a tie for 10th place on Duke’s career list (120). Jayson Tatum (16.1 points, 7.4 rebounds) is making a bid to join Jabari Parker and Jahlil Okafor as the only freshmen to average 15+ points and 7+ rebounds under Coach K. Allen, Kennard, and Tatum all shoot better than 80 percent from the line this season for a Duke team that is shooting .752 as a unit.

Notables:

  • NA

Probable Starters

G Frank Jackson (Fr.) – 10.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.8 APG

G Luke Kennard (So.) – 19.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG

G Matt Jones (Sr.) – 7.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG

F Jayson Tatum (Fr.) – 16.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG

F Amile Jefferson (Sr.) – 11.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG


UNC

Carolina and Duke close out the 2017 ACC regular season when they play for the 244th time on Saturday, March 4, at 8:20 PM. in Chapel Hill at the Dean E. Smith Center.

Carolina is 25-6 overall and 13-4 in the ACC. The Blue Devils are 23-7 overall, 11-6 in conference play. UNC has clinched at least a share of its 31st ACC regular-season championship, the most in history – Duke is second with 19. The Tar Heels have previously won 20 titles outright and shared 10.

The Tar Heels lead Notre Dame (12-5) by one game and Duke, Florida State and Louisville by two games (11-6). Carolina will win the ACC regular-season title outright for the 21st time with either a win over Duke or a Notre Dame loss at Louisville (Saturday, 2 p.m.). Carolina has clinched the No. 1 seed in the 2017 ACC Tournament, which will be played in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on March 7-11. The Heels receive a double-bye and will play its first game in the quarterfinal on Thursday, March 9, at noon against the winner of the second round game between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds.

This will be the 26th time the Tar Heels have played in the ACC Tournament as the No. 1 seed. Duke and NC State are second and third, respectively, with 17 and 6 No. 1 seeds in ACC history. This will be the eighth time Roy Williams’ teams have played in the ACC Tournament as a No. 1 seed (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2016, and 2017).

Williams has led UNC to the ACC regular-season championship for the eighth time in 14 seasons. No other coach or school has won more than three titles in that time. Coach Williams has led Kansas and North Carolina to 17 first-place finishes in conference play in 29 seasons as a head coach. The Tar Heels have won 13 or more ACC games 14 times, including eight times under Williams. Carolina has played Duke seven previous times under Williams in the final game of the regular season with first place in the ACC at stake for UNC (outright or a share). The Tar Heels are 7-0 in those games (2005, ‘07, ‘08, ‘09, ‘11, ‘12, and ‘16).

Justin Jackson is averaging 18.4 points per game, the highest scoring average by a Tar Heel since Tyler Hansbrough averaged 20.7 in 2008-09, and the fifth highest in Williams’ 14 seasons as UNC’s head coach. Jackson has made 2.71 three-pointers per game, a virtual tie for the UNC single-season record with Shammond Williams. Jackson is one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Award as the National Player of the Year.

Notables:

  • https://d.adroll.com/cm/index/out https://d.adroll.com/cm/n/out Carolina has held its last four opponents (Virginia, Louisville, Pitt, and Virginia) to 56.0 points and 36.0 percent shooting from the floor.
  • Roy Williams is 168-65 in ACC regular-season games. He is fourth all-time in wins (Mike Krzyzewski 399, Dean Smith 364, Gary Williams 192, and Roy Williams 168) and third in winning percentage (Vic Bubas .768, Smith .728 and Williams .721) in ACC regular-season games.
  • Williams has a home court record of 400-44 in 29 seasons as a head coach, including 199-27 at Carolina (197-27 at the Smith Center, 1-0 at Carmichael and 1-0 in a designated home game at the Greensboro Coliseum).

Probable Starters

G Joel Berry II (Jr.) – 14.7 PPG, 3.8 APG

F Theo Pinson (Jr.) – 6.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG

F Justin Jackson (Jr.) – 18.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG

F Isaiah Hicks (Sr.) – 11.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG

F Kennedy Meeks (Sr.) – 12.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG


Last Time Out

Duke

One of Duke’s shortest players kept finding ways to score on No. 15 Florida State’s long, tall defenders.

Freshman guard Frank Jackson — all 6-foot-3 of him — drove the lane, shot 3-pointers over the Seminoles’ outstretched fingertips, and gave the 17th-ranked Blue Devils all the cushion they needed. Jackson scored a season-best 22 points and Duke beat Florida State 75-70 on Tuesday night.

“Change of pace, a lot of shot fakes, floaters,” Jackson said. “They really were athletic, just a big team. I think the first time we played them, we kind of didn’t know what to expect. This time around, we were able to study, we progressively got better as the season went along.”

Amile Jefferson, playing in his final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, added 14 points and 11 rebounds while Luke Kennard finished with 17 points for the Blue Devils (23-7, 11-6 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Jayson Tatum added 15 points for Duke, which avenged a 16-point loss last month in Tallahassee, held Florida State 14 points below its scoring average and snapped a two-game losing streak that cost the Blue Devils a top-10 ranking but, according to Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, does not qualify as a slump.

“We’re playing our butts off. … We’re not slumping,” Krzyzewski said. “Our guys are playing great. They’re fighting like crazy. But sometimes, you don’t make that one-possession play, and our league is so unforgiving if you don’t make that play.”

Dwayne Bacon scored 19 points and Xavier Rathan-Mayes had 15 for the Seminoles (23-7, 11-6), who had their two-game winning streak snapped. Florida State pulled to 71-63 on Bacon’s free throw with 2:23 to play before Tatum countered with a jumper to put Duke up by 10 points.

Jackson then rebounded Jonathan Isaac’s missed three and Duke went to work on the clock, with Tatum grabbing a key rebound of his own miss to help the Blue Devils keep the ball away from the Seminoles until there were about 50 seconds remaining.

Jackson helped Duke build a 19-point lead by scoring 13 points in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the second half, taking the game over with three 3s in that span. That included a heat-checker over the 6-10 Isaac that made it 49-30 with about 15 1/2 minutes left.

“He was kind of playing off a little bit,” Jackson said. “I kind of hesitated, I saw that he was playing off and I just knocked down the shot.”

Notables:

  • The Blue Devils didn’t ask much of key guard Grayson Allen, who missed the Miami loss three days earlier with a lingering left ankle injury. Allen played just 16 minutes and finished with two points on 1-of-3 shooting, 2 rebounds, and no assists.
  • “We’ve got to get him healthy,” Krzyzewski said, “because he’s too valuable for us.”


UNC

Kyle Guy scored 17 points, London Perrantes had 13, and No. 23 Virginia used a small lineup to neutralize No. 5 North Carolina’s size in a 53-43 victory Monday night.

Guy connected on five 3-pointers for Virginia (20-9, 10-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) and Perrantes hit three, continuing to emerge from a shooting slump that contributed greatly to a four-game skid for the Cavaliers.

Joel Berry II scored 12 points to lead the Tar Heels (25-6, 13-4), who snapped a four-game winning streak. ACC Player of the Year contender Justin Jackson, who arrived averaging 19.9 points in league play, was guarded most of the night by Perrantes and scored just seven points and missed seven of his 10 shots.

The Cavaliers opened a 33-23 lead early in the second half, then saw North Carolina scored the next six points to pull to 33-29. But Devon Hall hit a pair of free throws and Guy followed two Tar Heels misses with a 3-pointer. After the Tar Heels trailed 40-39 with 9:26 left, Perrantes made back-to-back 3s for Virginia, rousing the crowd at John Paul Jones Arena to deafening levels. When Jack Salt added a putback that lingered on the rim, then dropped, the outcome seemed certain.

North Carolina, averaging 86.2 points, scored just four points in the game’s last 9:26


Notables:

  • https://d.adroll.com/cm/index/out The Tar Heels might not have been as sharp as they would have been had they not already clinched at least a share of the ACC regular season title, but Monday night’s game marked the fourth time this season they have scored 23 or fewer points in the first half. They also had 12 turnovers by halftime after averaging just 9.7 in their previous seven games.
  • Carolina’s 43 points are the fewest in Roy Williams’ 14 years and the fewest since the 47-40 loss at Duke on 2/24/79
  • Also the fewest by the Tar Heels vs. Virginia since a 42-35 UNC win in 1945
  • UNC’s 48 field goal attempts are nine fewer than its previous low this year (vs. Wisconsin)
  • Carolina’s seven free throw attempts also tied its season low – took seven in the win over Virginia nine days ago
  • Virginia made eight more three-pointers for 24 more points than it made in the Smith Center on 2/18
  • Virginia turned the ball over four times – previous low against UNC this year was six by the Cavaliers on 2/18

Head-to-Head

Carolina leads the all-time series with Duke, 134-109. The Blue Devils have won 12 of the last 15 meetings in the series (since the start of the 2009-10 season). UNC had won six of seven from 2006-09. UNC is 47-52 against Duke in Durham, including 36-43 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. UNC is 41-47 all-time in Cameron, including games against teams other than Duke.

Head coach Roy Williams is 11-17 at Carolina against Duke, including 6-7 at Cameron. The Tar Heels have played 243 games against Duke, more than any other opponent has.

Duke has shot 50 percent from the floor against UNC just four times in 27 games against Carolina in the Roy Williams era (the 2011 ACC final in Greensboro, 2013 in Chapel Hill, 2014 in Durham and 2015 in Durham). Carolina is 41-43 against Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke teams. Carolina and Duke have won 37 of the ACC’s 63 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championships, including 19 by Duke and 18 by UNC. Carolina and Duke are No. 1 and 2 all-time in the ACC in wins, ACC regular-season wins, ACC Tournament wins, and NCAA Tournament wins.

Statistics

[National ranking in parentheses. +/- denotes changes in each category since the last game.]

Note the enormity of statistical categories in bold.

Duke2016-17 Regular Season Key Stats ComparisonUNC
15..0 (15)PPG (Scoring Margin)15.0 (6) -1
68..4 (69) -7Opponents PPG84.4 (9)
54.7 (32) -1Effective FG%52.3 (91) -8
47.4 (36) -12FG%46.7 (52) +2
43.2 (129) -8Opponent FG%41.7 (58) +16
37.5 (60) +413PT FG%37.1 (87) -44
30.4 (10)Opponent 3PT FG%33.9 (113) +19
4.1 (58) -13RPG (Rebound Margin)13.3 (1)
32.9 (62) -18Opponent RPG31.1 (17) +5
75.2 (37) +16FT%69.9 (184) -29
13.6 (147) -20APG17.9 (3)
6.5 (14) -2SPG (%)8.5 (11) +8
.9 (128) -60Turnovers Per Game (Margin)1..8 (65) -3
12.4 (234) -122Opponent TOPG13.8 (114) -35
4.4 (59)BPG3.4 (155) -8
18.0 (96) +40Fouls Per Game17.6 (90) -40

Four Factors to Winning

[If you wish to learn more about how the four factors are calculated and implemented, a description can always be found here, https://www.dukeblogger.com/four-factors-winning/.] [D-1 Average in parentheses.]

The four factors are fairly even with the exception of getting to the free throw line where Duke dominates.

Duke
Note the enormity of statistical categories in bold.

eFG&TO%OR%FTRate
54.6 (32) +116.6 (48) +132.7 (71) +537.4 (122) -58

UNC

eFG&TO%OR%FTRate
52.3 (91) -516.6 (47) -1542.3 (1)33.5 (237) -78

Summary

In their first matchup of the season, the Duke Blue Devils upset the North Carolina Tar Heels with a thrilling 86-78 win. That game helped turn Duke’s season around, but UNC is looking to get revenge on their home court on Saturday in the regular season finale for both teams. The Blue Devils come into the game having lost two of their last three, while North Carolina is coming off their worst offensive performance of the season (53-43 loss to Virginia).

Will they be able to rebound and split the season series with Duke? Or will the Blue Devils get the sweep? Here’s a complete preview and prediction of the rematch.


Keys to the game:

Can UNC’s offense get back on track?

Coming into Monday night’s game against Virginia, North Carolina was playing as well as any team in the country. They were on a four-game winning streak with all of those wins coming by double digits. Then, they fell flat on their face in Charlottesville with the worst offensive performance of the Roy Williams era.

The Heels shot just 35.4 percent from the field and scored only 43 points in what many are chalking up as just “one of those nights.” After all, UNC’s offensive ranks fourth in efficiency (according to KenPom.com) and they are 11th in the country in points per game. All of that is true, but North Carolina needs to get back on track in this game before postseason play starts. The numbers suggest they will, but what I saw against Virginia was a bit more than just going up against a good defense. The offense stopped flowing, players stopped being aggressive and were settling for jump shots, and they didn’t have a go-to option to get themselves out of that funk.

Duke still struggles defensively – particularly against drives off the bounce – so the opportunity is there for Carolina to get back to being the team they were last week. However, their level of success will be determined by how aggressive they are. Will they be able to right the ship, or is this a new cause for concern?

Can Duke match UNC on the glass?

North Carolina is the best rebounding team in the country, leading the nation in every major rebounding category. The most important to their success is their offensive rebounding, as they rank first in both offensive rebounding rate and second chance points. Thanks to players like Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks, that gives the Heels a major advantage in virtually every game they play.

Duke was able to neutralize that advantage in the first game and actually outrebounded UNC 31-30, and limited them to just seven offensive rebounds – a number that the Blue Devils matched (though UNC not having Hicks in that game helped in this area). In fact, in four of Carolina’s five losses this season, they have lost the battle on the glass. That is the way to beat this team. If Duke can repeat their efforts in this area, they will win.


Endgame

Prediction: UNC wins 87-78

The home crowd helped propel Duke down the stretch in the first matchup in Durham, and I fully expect UNC to get the same boost in Chapel Hill. Having Hicks in the lineup this time around will help, too. Both sides will trade runs similar to the first matchup, but North Carolina’s dominance on the glass will be glass will be the difference this time around.

Some Duke fans gave their take on what they’d like to see happen in this game:

@dvippy24:
frebound, play solid d to force them into jumpers, prevent Justin Jackson from getting hot, they do those 3 things well = win 😈

@WaltandCaroline:
Looking forward to the game! I think that Amile, Bolden and Giles being able to protect the middle from Berry’s penetration will be key. Communication on defense down low will be important with UNC’s bigs. Offensively, our weapons are well documented (Luke, Allen and Tatum) but I hope Coach K will lean into Jackson’s momentum from last night’s game. Getting production from an unlikely place like Frank would be helpful in taking down the Heels.

@davidmaldridge:
Copy the UVA model – slow pace and send all 5 guys to the defensive glass

@krast12:
put Matt jones on Justin Jackson and frank on berry. Game set match.

@JRO1523:
score more points than UNC 😂

@Duke_BlueDevil_:
Let frank operate at PG, way better athlete than Berry. Let Tatum take advantage of matchup with Hicks, or whoever Hicks is guarding should be a mismatch off the bounce. Get Amile to take Meeks off the bounce (use his old man pump fakes).

@WillieCarterJr:
run more plays for Bolden and Giles off pick and roll offense! It’s time to reward these two for their rebounds!!!! Also teach Amile, Giles and Bolden to stay with their assigned man stop getting pulled away from the paint to defend

@Bluedevilsreign:
I would play them just like we have played them the last several years. They don’t have the penetrators to hurt us like other teams. We need to block out with guards and everyone. No need to try To run out.

@sitnuok:
I think we need to be prepared for hard contact often on the perimeter. After UM and SU, it’s coming…. can’t be hurt get rattled or lose poise…Treat it almost like a zone. Get it inside the 3pt line and use Kennard to QB the pass shot or drive. I think they will look to heavily pressure 3pt attempts and we need to drive dish and get their bigs in foul trouble. And anything we can do to put 10lb shoelaces on berry and get JJackson out of his comfort zone is gravy.

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