Meet the North Carolina Tar Heels

The Blue Devils face their arch rival on Wednesday night in a crucial conference battle.





F- 43 James McAdoo (14.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
F- 13 J.P. Tokoto (9.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
C- 03 Kennedy Meeks (7.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg)
G- 02 Leslie McDonald (10.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
G- 05 Marcus Paige (17.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.6 apg)

Marcus Paige has become one of the top sophomores in the country and all while being forced to play a new position. A converted shooting guard, Paige leads the Tar Heels in scoring and assists, and is the teams' top three point threat. Not only do the Heels need Paige's all around game, they need him to fill minutes. The sophomore is averaging 35.8 minutes per game - the most of any player under Roy Williams at North Carolina. Paige is also shooting 89 percent from the free throw line - one of the 10 best marks in the country. So far in 2014 Paige has earned ACC Player of the Week honors twice and ranks fifth in the league in scoring, fourth in assists, fifth in three pointers made per game, and seventh in assist to turnover ration.

STORYLINES - The historic rivalry will renew for 237th time on Wednesday night in Chapel Hill with the Tar Heels owning a 132-104 series advantage. Duke, however, has four of the last five games, and seven of the last nine meetings. Duke has won two straight games in the Smith Center, and the Blue Devils have beaten Roy Williams coached UNC teams in 12 of 21 contests. A win at the Smith Center on Wednesday will bump Duke's all-time record at the facility to 14-15.

Overall, Due has won 24 of the last 35 games in the season.

- After losing four of five games to being the 2014 calendar year, the Heels have seemingly corrected their course and have won seven straight games, beating Clemson, Georgia Tech, NC State, Maryland, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Florida State. Those first five games were won easily by an average of 13.8 points per contest. The most recent games against the Panthers and Seminoles, however showed a confident team ready to battle in close contests as the Heels won by four and six points.

On the flip side, Duke has also apparently righted the ship after losing to Clemson and Notre Dame early on in the ACC schedule. The Blue Devils have now won nine of 10 games, with the only loss being to No. 1 Syracuse by two points on the Orange's home court.

- Unlike the Blue Devils, North Carolina has several options in the post. The most productive of late has been freshman Kennedy Meeks. The Charlotte area prospect has recorded 57 rebounds in the last eight games. Meeks has earned a start in seven consecutive games, and was struggling from the field in the first five games, shooting just 7-of 22 in those contests. However, he had a breakout performance against Florida State, scoring 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds while shooting 11-of-12 from the field.

- A season ago Duke sent the nation's top big man at former prized UNC recruit James Michael McAdoo. The matchup against Mason Plumlee frustrated the then sophomore as the Blue Devil big consistently found ways to score. Plumlee averaged 20.5 points and 12.0 rebounds against McAdoo's 12.0 points and 5.5 rebounds.

A year later McAdoo will have a much different assignment as he'll likely matchup with Duke freshman Jabari Parker. For his part, McAdoo enters the game against Duke hoping to rebound after being held scoreless against the Seminoles. That performance saw the junior plagued by foul trouble, and was in stark contrast to the previous 16 games where he had scored in double figures.

- As noted, North Carolina has been up and down throughout the season. Despite some questionable losses, the Tar Heels can hang their hat on some signature wins as well. In fact, UNC has played its best against ranked teams in 2014 having beaten then No. 1 Michigan State, then No. 3 and defending NCAA champion Louisville and then No. 11 Kentucky in 2013-14. The Tar Heels lost at No. 2 Syracuse on Jan. 11.

- If you want to take the Tar Heels out of their comfort zone, force them to the perimeter. North Carolina is shooting a paltry 32.0 percent from three point territory on the season, which is on pace to be the worst in program history. Similarly, outside of Paige (who is automatic on the line), North Carolina is shooting just 62.2 percent as a team from the charity stripe. In fact, if you take away Paige's 101-113 season performance, the team is shooting just 317-of-559, or 56.7 percent.

- The bad shooting is overcome by hard work on the glass, where North Carolina averages 41.1 rebounds per game and enjoys a near +6 margin per game. The Heels are the league's standard when it comes to cleaning the glass, positing the best stats in several rebounding categories including rebounds per game, rebounding margin, offensive rebounding, and defensive rebounding.

- North Carolina is also leading the ACC in assists, steals, and three point percentage defense. Relative to the rest of the NCAA, the Heels rank 23rd in assists per game; 24th in field goal percentage defense, ninth in offensive rebounding, and 25th in total rebounds.

- Duke returned to the Associated Press Top 5 Monday, climbing from No. 8 to No. 5 in the most recent poll following a victory over Maryland at home.

- Over its past 10 games, Duke is shooting .427 (103-of-241) from three-point range while averaging 10.3 made three-pointers per game. Tyler Thornton (.522, 12-of-33), Rasheed Sulaimon (.514, 18-of-35) and Andre Dawkins (.510, 26-of-51) are all shooting better than 50.0 percent from three-point range during that span.

- Duke ranks fifth in the nation and leads the ACC with a 1.61:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Blue Devils have amassed 244 assists to just 79 turnovers and have committed less than 10 turnovers 14 times this season. Tyler Thornton leads Duke with a 4.00:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and owns a 21:1 mark over his past five games.

- Jabari Parker is currently averaging team highs of 19.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He is attempting to become the first Duke freshman to lead the team in both scoring and rebounding. Only two freshmen have led Duke in scoring, and only six have led the team in rebounding. Parker leads the ACC in rebounding and ranks second in scoring.

- Parker was named ACC Rookie of the Week for the league-leading eighth time Monday. He is just two ACC Freshman of the Week awards shy of tying the league record of 10, held by Georgia Tech's Kenny Anderson (1989-90) and North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough (2005-06).

North Carolina athletics contributed to this report.

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