UNC Basketball vs. Duke: Game Preview, Info and More

Jan 29, 2022; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels bench reacts in the second half at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 29, 2022; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels bench reacts in the second half at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

The UNC Basketball team is set to host the greatest rivalry in collegiate sports as the No. 9Duke Blue Devils come to town on Saturday.

This is a  rivalry between two schools only 10 miles apart that has been the game to watch for decades. Two teams, no matter the individual record, that put pride aside and play for their color of blue with bragging rights on who truly runs the town on the line. As Mike Krzyzewski gets ready to coach his last game in the Dean Dome, it’s Hubert Davis who prepares to make his head coaching debut in this historic rivalry.

No matter the season so far UNC fans still live by one saying…Just beat Duke.

Duke comes into this match-up with an 18-3 overall record with two of those losses coming from within the conference. Despite what appears to be a dominating season for the Blue Devils, they have had their struggles, such as the nail bitting 71-69 win a week ago over the 11-11 Clemson Tigers. A game in which Clemson only attempted one free throw compared to Duke’s 13. Duke did bounce back with more impressive wins against Louisville and the Fighting Irish by dominating the rebound battle. The Blue Devils came out on top in rebounds with the Cardinals 47 to 34 and Notre Dame 51 to 36.

The player to stop for Duke is Paolo Banchero, who leads the team in points (17.8) and rebounds (8.3). The 6-10 freshman forward has wreaked havoc on every frontcourt he’s faced, scoring in double digits in all 21 games. Outside of Banchero, UNC will need to focus on junior Wendell Moore who leads the team in field goal % with 52 and assist (4.5).

Meanwhile, for UNC, things seem to be looking up…

Carolina is on a four-game winning streak with their last performance being the grittiest of the season so far. The Tar Heels showed the most fight they have all year with a 90-83 overtime win against the Cardinals. They outscored Lousiville 16 to 3 in extra time, and for the first time in a while you can see this team click as one.

Key To Victory

Start fast and finish strong…

Duke is a team that often wins the first half in blow out fashion while falling apart in the second half. In the loss against the Buckeyes, Duke won the first half 43 to 30, then proceeded to get outscored in the second half 41 to 23. It happened again In the game that was lost against the Seminoles, which Duke led 38-33 at the half then lost the battle in the second half 34 to 29.

UNC arguably does the opposite…

They started slowly against Boston College, where they went into the half up by two just to catch fire in the second half to win by 11. The Tar Heels also had a similar-style win earlier in the season against Michigan as they went in with the same half-time lead and declawed the wolverines in the second half winning by 21.

Fighting off a strong start and keeping it close in the first half will be key for UNC to drive home the win in the second…

Something To Watch

Is Caleb Love going to go off again?

Last season UNC swept the Blue Devils, and you can point to Love’s explosive game on the reasoning why. In the first match, Love showed just how much hate he had for Duke, dropping 25 points and 7 assists in 30 minutes of action, as UNC won in a nail-bitting 91-87 game. Love repeated that performance a month later dropping 18 points and another 7 assists as UNC high-fived all night to a 91-73 victory.

This game could end up being a true UNC versus Duke classic. As UNC looks to protect their 12-0 record, as well as give Hubert Davis his first win in the rivalry, it will be Duke looking to send Coach K home with the final laugh.

Safe to say…This is a game you do not want to miss.

Projected Starters

No. 4 R.J. Davis (So., 6-0, 175) – 13.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.4 apg
No. 2 Caleb Love (So., 6-4, 195) – 15.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.5 apg
No. 1 Leaky Black (Sr., 6-8 200) – 4.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.4 apg
No. 45 Brady Manek (So. 6-9, 230) – 13.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.6 apg
No. 5 Armando Bacot (Jr., 6-10, 240) – 16.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 1.7 bpg

What You Need To Know

WHAT?  Duke Blue Devils (18-3,  8-2 ACC) AT North Carolina Tar Heels  (16-6, 8-3 ACC)
WHEN? Saturday, Feb. 5th – 6:00 p.m. EST
WHERE? Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
RADIO? Tar Heels Sports Network
LAST MEETING? UNC beat Duke  91-73, March 6, 2021
ALL-TIME SERIES? UNC leads all-time 141-114

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