ACC regular season title on the line as UNC basketball travels to Duke

A lot is at stake on Saturday night, as the UNC basketball program looks to win the ACC regular season title outright with a win over rival Duke.

North Carolina v Duke
North Carolina v Duke / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

The rivalry will once again renewed on Saturday night, as the UNC basketball program visits rival Duke for the second meeting between the two squads this season.

ESPN. 24-6. 434. 24-6. 441. 6:30 PM EST. Saturday, March 9, 2024. DUKE UNC 2.

A lot is at stake (as always) in this one, as the ACC regular season title is on the line.

After defeating Notre Dame on Tuesday night, the UNC basketball program secure at least a share of the conference title. However, with a win over the Blue Devils, the title will be solely theirs.

Without a doubt, these two bitter rivals don't want to share anything. However, the Blue Devils will certainly settle for it if they can earn some revenge against the Tar Heels in this one.

Not only does this have major implications on the regular season standings, but it also will have a huge impact on next week's ACC Tournament. If Duke finds a way to win this game, the top two seeds of the ACC Tournament will come down to a tie-breaker based on how the rest of the conference seeds after Saturday's action.

Durham will be rocking on Saturday night, as you know both teams will be ready for this primetime matchup in the latest installment of this historic rivalry.

Key to Victory for North Carolina

Although the Blue Devils has three players score more than 20 points in the first meeting, the Tar Heels did a great job of slowing down sophomore guard Tyrese Proctor.

Proctor finished with just two points while making one of six shots from the floor, as it wasn't a typical type of performance we've seen from the sophomore.

However, since that first meeting, Proctor has been solid, as it will be important for the Tar Heels to slow down him along with the Blue Devils' other talented guards.

You could make the case that Jared McCain has been their best player over the second half of the season, as the freshman has come into his own. Senior Jeremy Roach, who may be making his final appearance in this rivalry, can also be a handful.

North Carolina has to put together a strong 40-minute defensive effort, as they can't struggle with closing out on open shooters if they want to win this game.

Something to Watch For

Duke will have a bit of a different look, as key reserve Caleb Foster will miss the game due to injury. The freshman played 19 minutes off the bench in the first meeting, as he was just one of three reserves to see the court.

The Blue Devils have been mixing-and-matching since Foster's injury, as it's possible that some other players (such as Sean Stewart) will see extended minutes. However, does Jon Scheyer elect to ride his starters (barring foul trouble) if he doesn't trust his bench in this big-time game?

Last Meeting

On February 4, the No. 3-ranked UNC basketball program defended its home court against the No. 7-ranked Duke Blue Devils. The Tar Heels won the first meeting of the season between the two programs by a score of 93-84.

Armando Bacot led all scorers with 25 points, while Harrison Ingram dropped 21 points of his own. Both aforementioned Tar Heels recorded double-doubles in the win, while RJ Davis contributed 17 points as well.

Freshman Jared McCain led the Blue Devils with 23 points, as the trio of McCain, Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach combined for 65 of Duke's 84 total points.

Projected Starters

No. 2 Elliot Cadeau (Fr. 6-1, 180) 7.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 4.1 apg
No. 3 Cormac Ryan (Sr. 6-5, 195) 10.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.3 apg
No. 4 R.J. Davis (Sr. 6-0, 180) 21.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.5 apg
No. 5 Armando Bacot (Gr. 6-11, 240) 14.0 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.5 apg
No. 55 Harrison Ingram (Jr. 6-7, 235) 12.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.2 apg

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