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College basketball preview: North Carolina vs Duke

During ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday, Rece Davis called North Carolina the Amanda Bynes of college basketball. The unpredictable behavior early in the season was very intriguing for Tarheel fans and detractors, but they are on a roll entering tournament play.

North Carolina takes on Duke in ACC finale
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Duke battles UNC for rebound
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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Wins over Kentucky, Michigan State and Louisville were contrasted by losses to Belmont and UAB early in the season. However, North Carolina is one of the hottest teams in the country over the final month.

The Duke Blue Devils host North Carolina on the final Saturday of college basketball’s season. Both teams come into the game with a (23-7) record, but North Carolina has a one game lead in the ACC standings.

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Both teams already clinched a double bye in the ACC tournament, so this game is more about pride than anything. Of course there are tournament seeds on the line, thus it’s going to be another hotly contested battle.

The Tarheels come into the game with a 12 game winning streak and second place on the line. In the last three games, North Carolina escaped with last possession victories. Although their foul shooting hasn’t been great, they’ve constantly found ways to win each game.

Duke gave away a double digit lead in the first meeting against North Carolina. The Blue Devils got off to a fast start, but they couldn’t answer the Tarheels run in the second half. Offensively, Duke got into a rut against North Carolina’s zone defense.

Three Key Match ups

Jabari Parker vs. James Michael McAdoo

This should be an elite high level battle from the mid range in. They both run the floor incredible well, and whoever is finishing at the rim will have the upper hand. Parker is averaging 18.8 points and nine rebounds per game, but it would be higher if he didn’t get in foul trouble. It will be important for McAdoo to attack Parker off the dribble early in the game. When Parker gets to the line he shoots 73 percent. McAdoo only hits at 52 % from the line.

Quinn Cook vs. Marcus Paige

Paige has been a force for the Tarheels. At one point, he was the only viable three point shooter on the team, but it’s his overall floor game that has dominated ball games. When Quinn Cook has it going, Duke is that much tougher on the perimeter. His pressure defense off the bench must create turnovers for Duke. Cook has to be a confident shooter once North Carolina goes to the zone.

Rodney Hood vs. J.P. Tokoto

Rodney Hood is another proven scorer for the Duke Blue Devils. Hood is over 80% from the foul line, so he might be the toughest Blue Devil to deal with on the offensive end. It will be an all around effort from North Carolina, but it will be interesting to see J.P. Tokoto handle this challenge. Tokoto doesn’t get a ton of offensive opportunities, but his ability in the open floor is exceptional. In similar fashion to most of the Tarheels, Tokoto struggles from the line.


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