UNC Basketball: Duke vs Carolina Inside The Numbers


North Carolina and Duke collide in Chapel Hill at the Dean Dome on Wednesday night for another meeting of the greatest rivalry in college basketball.  Carolina comes in hot winning 14 of its last 15 and five in a row after a tough loss to Florida State.  Duke comes in struggling losing two of its last three at home, including its most recent loss to Miami on Sunday the first in the series history at Cameron Indoor.  UNC returns home after grinding out a tough win against Maryland on the road.  But enough with the introductions, it’s time to go Inside the Numbers, Carolina-Duke style!

Like just about every team in the nation, the Tar Heels hold the statistical advantage over the Blue Devils.  But this is not typical Tar Heel statistical dominance.  In fact, Duke holds the advantage in every single shooting department.  The widest disparity is at the charity stripe where Duke is shooting a respectable 70.1% to UNCs 65.1%.  Close games usually come down to free throws and turnovers.  Duke is also a better three point shooting team holding a 39.3% to 35.7% advantage.  When you look at those two numbers alone one would think Duke is a much better shooting team than is Carolina.  Duke’s advantage in combined FG% however is slim, with Duke holding a 48.2% to 47% advantage.

Duke advantage or a mirage?: It gets more interesting when you look at why that shrink occurs.  UNC may shoot a lower percentage, but they have scored nearly 100 more FGs than Duke this season (715-617).  They’ve done this while taking 242 more shots than Duke (1521-1279).  This is a result of two things, tempo and offensive rebounding.  The Heels play at a much faster pace than Duke’s half court style offense.  Roy Williams prefers to push the ball whenever possible, especially after made baskets.  The numbers and the scouting report match up to both teams M/O.  Duke likes to slow it down, play half court efficient basketball, and they like to shoot the trey.  North Carolina likes to run, run, run and run some more.  Controlling the tempo will be the biggest factor in the ball game for both teams.

Heel Dominance: The Heels dominate the Devils on the boards, both offensively and defensively.  Carolina is #1 in the nation averaging 46.3 rebounds per game, Duke isn’t even ranked among the nations top 100 at #105 at 36.0 rpg.  UNC thrives at frustrating opponents by creating second chance opportunities.  They also lead the nation in that category pulling down 16.1 per game (vs 11.5 by Duke).  UNC needs to not only win the rebounding battle, they need to dominate in this area.  Crushing Duke on the boards will allow for Carolina to control the tempo, get more shots at the rim and make up for being the inferior shooting team.

Biggest Surprise: I was surprised doing my research for this column finding out how much Carolina destroys Duke in the assists category.  A half court team playing in a historically efficient offense, my assumption was Duke had high assists numbers.  The pleasant surprise of the day for me was proving my assumptions to be just that (what’s that saying again about assumptions?).  UNC is fourth in the nation averaging 18.2 assists per game.  Duke on the other hand ranks just 132nd in the nation at 13.3 per game.  In other words, Kendall Marshall might just out pass this team by himself.  It wouldn’t be that surprising considering Marshall has had 13 or more assists six times already this season.

It’s all about the tempo: Aside from winning the rebounding battle.  UNC can do a couple other things to get the temp it wants against Duke.  One is making sure they create some breaks with blocked shots inside.  The Heels are one of the best in the nation at creating offense after a blocked shot.  Carolina also holds a big advantage over Duke in this category swatting away 6.3/game vs only 4.3 by Duke.  The Blue Devils are going to try and slow down this game. Likely by running an efficient half court offense that draws the Heels bigs out of positions, taking away UNCs advantage on the glass.  Duke and UNC are nearly deadlocked in the turnover category.  Both teams have had some sloppy games lately, committing careless turnovers, missing point blank shots.  Carolina however is the team that keeps finding a way to win.

Balanced Attack: UNC hasn’t had much production at all in the last five games from it’s reserves.  Carolina has relied heavily on it’s “Big Four” lately.  All season long Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson have carried the scoring load while Kendall Marshall has handed out the vast majority of the teams assists.  With Dexter Strickland out of the lineup, the team needs Reggie Bullock to open up the offense and take pressure off the rest of the starting five.  Equally important is the play of freshman PJ Hairston and James Michael McAdoo, now the most important players on the Tar Heels bench.  The Blue Devils have four players averaging double digits and on paper may look a little more balanced than Carolina does.  I’m not buying it though, Duke doesn’t have nearly the amount of talent as the Heels do.  In my opinion Duke is vastly overrated this season and has no business in the Top 10.  Duke has suffered a couple of bad losses while UNCs have come against the #1 team in the nation and two other surprise Top 25 opponents.

Just sum it up for me already!: OK, OK chill, here you go.  UNC outscores Duke by 5.3ppg and gives up 2.1 less per game.  So UNC wins by 7.4, call it an even 7 right?  Duke shoots a little better but UNC dominates the other parts of the game so much (rebounding, blocks, steals etc) they have so many more opportunities they still score more points.  Duke slows it down and tries to out shoot and play smarter basketball than you.  Carolina relies on it’s athleticism, transition game and it’s stable of big men to crush you.

Stats for you to throw in your Dook fan friends face

DUKE Opponents69.143.868.932.033.011.821.211.313.56.62.321.0
UNC Opponents67.038.570.031.734.711.623.
StatDukeNorth CarolinaDukeNorth Carolina
Total Games2323                  ACC88
Field Goals Made617715209231
Field Goals Attempted12791521455526
Field Goal Percentage0.4820.470.4590.439
Free Throws Made419383124113
Free Throws Attempted598588169166
Free Throw Percentage0.7010.6510.7340.681
Three Pointers1821216038
Three Pointers Attempted463339176125
Three Point Percentage0.3930.3570.3410.304
Points Per Game79.884.175.276.6
Rebounds Per Game36.046.334.944.6
Offensive Rebounds26437095127
Offensive Rebounds Per Game11.516.111.915.9
Defensive Rebounds563694184230
Defensive Rebounds Per Game24.530.223.028.8
Assists Per Game13.318.212.615.4
Steals Per Game6.
Turnovers Per Game12.812.710.913.0
Blocks Per Game4.
Fouls Per Game17.814.319.015.2

NCAA Basketball