UNC Basketball: UNC vs Duke Inside the Numbers


North Carolina versus Duke, game time is almost here Tar Heel Nation!  By now you’ve read the previews, you’ve suffered through watching that dreadful Austin Rivers three over and over again.  You’ve heard me and everybody else tell you how important this game is.  The conference regular season title at stake, the bragging rights, the blah and the blah, blah, blah.  Everybody’s got an opinion, everybody has an agenda, except the numbers that is.  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.  This is not typical Tar Heel statistical dominance.  In fact, Duke holds the advantage in every single shooting department.   Everything about the history of these two teams spells a nail bitter.  In the last 75 head to head meetings, UNC holds a razor thin advantage 38-37, the avg score 75-75.  

Heel Dominance: Carolina the nations top rebounding team dominate Duke just like most teams in the nation.   UNC enjoys the largest disparity in any category amongst the two teams on the boards.  The Heels average a nations best 45.8 rebounds per game.  A +8.7 advantage over Dukes 37.1 rebounds per.  The edge is split almost evenly on both ends of the floor.  The Tar Heels thrive at creating second chance opportunities on offense averaging 16.1 per game versus Dukes 12.  The Heels are just as dominate on the defensive glass averaging 29.7 per game versus Dukes 25.1.  Rebounding is key to everything UNC does.  A high tempo, faced paced, transition offense will only work if the Heels are able to keep Duke off the offensive glass.  The Tar Heels half court offense who’s perimeter shooting has been a struggle all year long, relies heavily on second chance points.  Duke has done a good job this season allowing it’s opponents just 11.4 offensive rebounds per game which is slightly better than UNC whose opponents avg 11.6 per game.

Blue Devil Advantage: Duke holds the advantage in every single shooting category.  The Tar Heels have closed the gap a bit since the last meeting in overall FG%.  Dook holds a thin advantage of just 0.9% now in that category (46.5%-45.9%).  UNC struggled at the line early in the season.  But since their last meeting with Duke, they have improved significantly.  Still, Duke holds a 2.3% advantage at the line (69.8%-67.5%) neither team is impressive at the charity stripe and both will need to shoot better in the NCAA Tourney if they wish to advance very far.  Beyond the three point line is where the Blue Devils advantage holds meaning.  Duke is a dangerous three point shooting team and they hold a big advantage in this department shooting 39% vs UNCs 34.4% a 4.6% advantage.  The Blue Devils have five players shooting at least 37% from beyond the arc compared to just two for Carolina.

Biggest Surprise: The Blue Devils have closed the gap significantly in the scoring department.  Early in the season the Tar Heels lead on the rest of the ACC was pretty wide.  In this one, UNC holds just a +3.1 ppg advantage over Duke (82.1-79.0).   This Duke team has never struck me as a high powered offensive team.  Their increase in scoring however suggests otherwise.

It’s all about the tempo: Tempo, tempo, tempo, it’s something I’ve talked about all season long, against every single Tar Heel opponent.  Teams that are able to slow UNC down and keep them from running wild are the ones that have a chance at defeating Carolina.  Other than Kentucky, no team in the nation has the athletes to run with the Heels and Duke is no exception.  Patience on both ends of the floor is the key to controlling the tempo.  Perimeter defense may be the biggest factor.  Roy Williams needs Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall to handle their 1 on 1 match-ups without the help of their bigs.   Tyler Zeller and John Henson need to stay in the painted area and focus on dominating the boards to ignite the transition offense.   If Duke can successfully screen and move their way around the perimeter, and force UNCs twin towers to creep out, the Heels rebounding advantage could be nullified.  Thus slowing down the tempo, forcing Carolina into a half court game which the Blue Devils prefer.

Just sum it up for me already!: Okay, Okay, in short, the numbers tell us exactly what we’ve seen on the court all season long.  Duke is an efficient, half court team that can light it up on the perimeter.  UNC is athletically dominate and should control the boards and have it’s way with the tempo of the game.  History tells us to ignore the numbers and expect the unexpected in any UNC-Duke game.  This one’s for all the marbles and nothing can be taken for granted.  The team that wins the one category that statistics cannot reveal to us will win this contest.  Hustle and heart will determine this one folks, and not I or anyone in the sports world can quantify that in a set of numbers for you.  I guess we’ll all just have to watch and see, I have a feeling this one’s going to be another in a long line of classic North Carolina vs Duke games.

A look at the numbers:

UNC Opponents66.138.668.031.434.711.623.111.413.66.03.421.0
DUKE Opponents68.443.368.031.333.611.422.
#5K. Marshall302932.6676.842.470.331.12.50.1332.3679.6332.6331.30.1671.567
#31J. Henson302929.63314.250.650.00.010.3332.87.5331.3671.3330.6333.0671.667
#40H. Barnes302927.96717.445.972.939.85.1332.0673.0671.0671.7671.10.3671.667
#44T. Zeller303027.316.
#35R. Bullock301023.68.46743.283.338.84.81.6673.1331.0671.00.6330.21.067
#1D. Strickland191924.2637.47457.
#43J. McAdoo30013.7335.039.360.30.03.6331.1332.50.2670.70.60.2671.433
#15P. Hairston29012.6555.86230.586.328.32.2760.7591.5170.7930.7240.4140.2071.552
#24J. Watts3016.2671.
#11S. White2604.1540.73122.244.423.10.3850.0380.3460.6540.1150.1150.00.885
#14D. Hubert2004.950.8547.
#21J. Simmons2001.90.6540.
#0A. Rivers302932.76715.344.364.539.33.30.5332.7672.1332.30.9330.0332.033
#30S. Curry302829.93313.644.487.439.22.5670.7671.
#5M. Plumlee302828.210.76755.550.
#34R. Kelly301825.83312.16745.580.743.05.5331.8673.6671.1331.4330.81.0332.3
#20A. Dawkins301423.0679.33342.373.941.22.10.3331.7670.6330.8330.4670.0671.867
#3T. Thornton301519.9673.63338.773.837.01.6670.41.2672.
#21M. Plumlee301219.66.46760.862.70.07.0332.94.1330.5671.30.5330.9332.2
#2Q. Cook29412.1034.55240.879.526.01.00.2070.7932.00.5860.3450.0690.862
#15J. Hairston2527.882.6443.966.70.01.440.880.560.080.440.160.121.32
#13M. Gbinije1706.5291.94155.0100.040.00.9410.2940.6470.1760.4710.1760.0591.0
#52T. Zafirovski502.
#12A. Murphy000000000000000

NCAA Basketball

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