UNC Basketball: Are you ready for a Duel in Durham?!

Mar 5, 2022; Durham, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5) celebrates after beating the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Tar Heels won 94-81. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2022; Durham, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5) celebrates after beating the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Tar Heels won 94-81. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports /
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The UNC basketball program is set to make the short trip to Durham on Saturday night for their first of two regular season matchups with rival Duke.

It’s safe to say that Durham, North Carolina will be rocking on Saturday night.

16-6. Duke -2.5. 6:30 PM EST. 441. ESPN. 434. 15-7. Saturday, February 4, 2023

The greatest rivalry in sports renews, as the UNC basketball program will travel to Durham to take on the Duke Blue Devils in the first of two regular-season matchups.

Last season, the rivalry certainly changed a bit, as the Tar Heels not only defeated the Coach K-led Blue Devils in his final regular season home game but went on to defeat him in his final game on the sidelines in the Final Four.

This year will definitely have a different look, as it’s been quite some time since this matchup doesn’t include Krzyzewski. However, first-year head coach Jon Scheyer and his team will look to earn some revenge against Hubert Davis and a very similar-looking North Carolina team from a season ago.

Key to Victory for North Carolina

Armando Bacot should have an advantage in this one, especially if the Blue Devils get into early foul trouble. However, the key here is the Tar Heels’ shooting, especially from three-point range, as they must be efficient shooting the basketball in order to force Duke to limit the double-teams on Bacot.

On the defensive side of the ball, North Carolina must slow down Kyle Filipowski. Will Davis elect to have Leaky Black shadow the Blue Devils’ top-scoring threat, or will Pete Nance draw the assignment early on?

Something to Watch

Puff Johnson is expected to be available after missing a few games due to injury, as his return will certainly help this team.

As big as Johnson’s return is, the status of RJ Davis’ finger is the storyline here. Davis has stated that he plans on not taping the finger he dislocated in the win against Syracuse, but it is an injury that has hampered him a bit throughout the season. Remember, the junior guard suffered a similar injury early in the season, and he struggled out of the gate shooting the basketball.

How much is Davis’ finger impacting his shot, and can he battle through it to knock down some key baskets for the Tar Heels this evening?

Last Meeting

Fans of the UNC basketball program remember this one well, as the Tar Heels defeated the Blue Devils in their first-ever Final Four matchup last spring.

The No. 8-seed Tar Heels went on to upset the No.2-seed Blue Devils, as Caleb Love drained a three-pointer over Mark Williams that will be replayed a lot for a very long time in UNC basketball history. Love finished with a game-high 28 points, as the Tar Heels relied very heavily on the “Iron Five” to lead them to victory.

Projected Starters

No. 4 R.J. Davis (Jr., 6-0, 175) – 16.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.2 apg
No. 2 Caleb Love (Jr., 6-4, 200) – 16.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.0 apg
No. 1 Leaky Black (Gr., 6-9 205) – 6.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.5 apg
No. 32 Pete Nance (Gr. 6-11, 230) – 11.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.6 apg
No. 5 Armando Bacot (Sr., 6-11, 235) – 17.7 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 1.1 bpg