UNC Women's Basketball gears up for Round 1 against the Duke Blue Devils

After a week off, the UNC women's basketball program returns to the court on Sunday as they take the short trip to visit the rival Blue Devils.

North Carolina v NC State
North Carolina v NC State / Lance King/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

I don't know about you, but for me, it felt extremely weird to not have UNC women's basketball over the last week.

The Tar Heels last took the court on Sunday, as they suffered a overtime loss to now No. 16-ranked Virginia Tech. Coming off a three-game losing streak, Courtney Banghart's team had plenty of time to regroup and prepare for their next challenge, a big one for any sport at the University of North Carolina.

Duke.

Yes, the Blue Devils are next on the schedule for the Tar Heels, as they'll take the short trip to Durham for the first of two battles between the two foes this season.

15-8. 441. UNC DUKE WOMEN 1. 434. 2:00 PM EST. ACC Network. Sunday, February 11, 2024. 15-7.

Before you enjoy the Super Bowl, fans have the opportunity to watch a marquee matchup between two bitter rivals. Based on the history, this one has the makings of being a fun one to watch on Sunday afternoon.

There's plenty of motivation for both sides, but the UNC women's basketball program has to come in with a little added incentive on their end. What better way to snap a three-game losing skid then to once again beat Duke on their home floor?

Key to Victory for North Carolina

Consistency is the key.

The UNC women's basketball must be more consistent on the offensive end of the floor, as their struggles to do so have really hurt them, especially over the last three games.

In the loss to Virginia Tech, the trio of Deja Kelly, Alyssa Ustby and Lexi Donarski combined to shoot just 16-46 from the floor, which isn't good enough to get it done.

The Tar Heels need to find a way to get their "big three" going early and often in this one, especially Kelly and Ustby, who both have plenty of prior experience in this rivalry setting.

Something to Watch For

After having back-to-back double digit performances, freshman Reniya Kelly hasn't been able to match that production in the two games that have followed.

She was essentially a non-factor in her most recent outing, going scoreless over 18 minutes of action while only attempting two shots.

The Tar Heels could really use her offensive skillset, as her scoring ability is something that they could use on a consistent basis. Will the freshman introduce herself to the rivalry by putting together a big-time performance?

Projected Starters

No. 1 Alyssa Ustby (Sr. 6-1) 12.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 3.5 apg
No. 5 Maria Gakdeng (Jr. 6-3) 9.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 0.6 apg
No. 10 Reniya Kelly (Fr. 5-7) 4.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.4 apg
No. 20 Lexi Donarski (Gr. 6-0) 10.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.2 apg
No. 25 Deja Kelly (Sr. 5-8) 16.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.3 apg