The Duke Blue Devils had a special night in Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 8. Not only did the Blue Devils have their last home game of the season, against the arch-rival North Carolina Tar Heels, but it stood to be freshman Jabari Parker's last game on the Duke campus. In that regard, Parker had a very fond farewell, as his career best night lifted the Blue Devils over the Tar Heels by 93-81.
Parker's 30 points and 11 rebounds made it the game of his college career, regardless of how he may not have much time to top it. If he does, however, the Blue Devils may be in good shape to extend his freshman year deep into March.
Duke and Parker didn't look as good earlier in the week, as an upset loss at Wake Forest on March 5 crippled their chances for a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed. But by beating much tougher North Carolina and avenging its loss in Chapel Hill on Feb. 20, Duke got back on the right foot before the ACC tournament.
The Blue Devils opened up a 19-point lead during the second half, although it was cut to eight with under three minutes left. Nevertheless, North Carolina was too far down to get any closer, as Parker blocked a three-point shot by Marcus Paige during Duke's final run.
The Tar Heels had been the hotter team in recent weeks, after an up and down first half that included big upset wins and inexplicable losses. In the end, it evened out to a 23-8 regular season record and the fourth seed in the ACC tournament.
The Blue Devils technically barely did any better, with a 24-7 regular season and the likely third seed in the ACC tournament. But they are still in play for a bigger seed in the NCAA tournament, although they'll need a lot of help to get a No. 1 -- yet a No. 2 is doable if they win the ACC.
With the Virginia Cavaliers, Syracuse Orange, Blue Devils and Tar Heels topping the ACC field, it should be one of the more competitive conference tournaments of the coming week. It may be Parker's only ACC tournament either way, but if he has nights like the one in his last home game this season, he and Duke can make a big impact in a short time together anyway.