The game will be televised nationally by ESPN with Mike Patrick (play-by-play), Dick Vitale (color) and Doris Burke (sideline) calling the action. Tipoff is set for 9:04 PM.
Overall......................... North Carolina 123-93 At Cameron Indoor Stadium....... Duke 36-30 At Dean E. Smith Center......... North Carolina 11-8 In ACC Tournament............... Duke 11-8 Current Streak.................. Duke W 2 Longest Duke Win Streak......... 8 (1951-54) Longest UNC Win Streak.......... 16 (1921-28) Biggest Duke Win................ 104-69 (2/29/64) Biggest UNC Win................. 55-19 (3/5/21) Duke Under Coach K.............. 28-28
This will mark the 217th meeting between Duke and North Carolina with the Tar Heels holding a 123-93 series lead. Duke has won 13 of the past 15 meetings between the two schools, including five of the past six meetings in the Smith Center, and six of the last seven at Cameron Indoor. Under Mike Krzyzewski, Duke is 28-28 vs. the Tar Heels.
Chris Duhon's reverse layup with 6.5 seconds left in overtime gave No. 1 Duke an 83-81 overtime victory over No. 17 North Carolina, its 16th straight win overall and fifth in the last six years on North Carolina's home court.
Shelden Williams had 22 points and 12 rebounds for Duke. He had two of his five blocks in overtime and also came up with a big defensive play in the final minute to force a turnover by the Tar Heels.
Rashad McCants scored 27 points for North Carolina, including the three-pointer with 13 seconds left that tied the game at 81. Sean May had 15 points and 21 rebounds for the Tar Heels, but was 7-for-18 from the field.
*- Duke has clinched its 16th ACC regular season title — the 10th in the past 19 seasons under Mike Krzyzewski. The Blue Devils have row won their sixth ACC regular season title in the past eight seasons. Duke is 12-3 in the league and has clinched the No. 1 seed in the 2004 ACC Tournament
*- Duke had its 41-game home winning streak snapped by No. 19 Georgia Tech (76-68) on March 3. The 41-game home winning streak is the second longest in ACC history.
*- Thursday's game will mark the 133rd straight meeting between Duke and North Carolina that at least one of the teams is ranked in a national poll. That streak dates back to Feb. 25, 1955
*- Duke's has been ranked in the national top 12 for the last 20 meetings with the Tar Heels.
*- Duke has played as many games away from Cameron Indoor Stadium (14) than it has at home (14) so far this season.
*- Shelden Williams ranks in a first-place tie among active ACC players with 14 career double-doubles along with North Carolina's Sean May. Williams had 13 points and 10 rebounds vs. Georgia Tech on March 3 for his eighth double-double of the year.
*- Chris Duhon became Duke's all-time steals leader with four thefts vs. Virginia on Feb. 11. Duhon now has 285 career thefts to his credit, fourth among ACC all-time leaders. He matched his career high with seven steals vs. No. 19 Georgia Tech on Wednesday.
*- The Blue Devils have been particularly tough following a loss in recent season. In fact, Duke has posted a 20-3 record following a loss since the 1997-98 season.
*- Duke has dominated in-state competition recently, winning 67 of its last 78 (.859) games vs. North Carolina teams since the 1996-97 season. Included in that total is a 15-5 mark vs. North Carolina.
*- Duke has been very balanced offensively this season as five players — J.J. Redick (16.7), Luol Deng (14.3), Shelden Williams (12.4), Daniel Ewing (12.0), Chris Duhon (10.0) — are averaging at least 10.0 points per game.
*- The Blue Devils have limited opponents to a .404 field goal percentage overall, a .332 three-point percentage and 63.4 points per game. In addition, Duke has averaged 6.7 blocked shots (school record is 6.3 in 1998-99) and 18.1 forced turnovers per game this season.
*- Duke has been solid from the free throw line this season. The Blue Devils' free throw percentage is .744 (479-of-644). Duke has made 479 foul shots while its opponents have attempted just 482. The .744 free throw percentage is the best for Duke since connecting on .748 of its foul shots in 1991-92.
*- Shelden Williams, known as "The Landlord," has blocked a team- and ACC-best 89 shots this season, while Shavlik Randolph (47) and Luol Deng (30) each have at least 30 rejections so far this year. Williams leads the league in blocked shots, Randolph ranks third and Deng is 10th in the ACC.
*- Mike Krzyzewski currently ranks 17th among the all-time victory leaders at the Division I level with 687 career victories.
Meet the Tar Heels:
Probable Starting Lineup: Raymond Felton (6-, 191, G, So.) – 11.7 ppg, 7.9 apg, 2.3 spg Melvin Scott (6-1, 183, G, Jr.) – 11.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.1 spg Rashad McCants (6-4, 205, G/F, So.) – 19.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg Jawad Williams (6-8, 221, F, Jr.) – 12.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg Sean May (6-8, 268, C, So.) – 15.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg Key Reserves: Jackie Manuel (6-5, 202, F, Jr.) – 6.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 spg David Noel (6-6, 226, F, So.) – 5.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg Byron Sanders (6-9, 228, C, So.) – 0.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg Damion Grant (7-0, 270, C, So.) – 0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg
With Roy Williams finally returning home this was supposed to be the year that North Carolina was able to challenge for the ACC title. However, inconsistency and system implementation problems have caused the Tar Heels to play a hair better than .500 ball his season. However the Heels have improved as the season has wound down, winning four of their last six.
Despite their 8-7 conference record, Carolina brings one of the most talented and potentially explosive lineups the Devils will face this season. It starts in the backcourt with preseason ACC Player of the Year Raymond Felton, who is the unquestioned leader for Williams' troops. Blessed with a lightning fast first step and good vision, Felton leads the ACC in assists at 7.9 per contest, but has the ability to take a game over with his scoring when needed.
Manning the other backcourt slot is the ACC's leading scorer, Rashad McCants. The 6-foot-4 strong guard can fill up a statsheet in a number of ways including from the perimeter (where he's hitting 42.5% of his three point attempts), off the dribble, or posting up smaller defenders. Despite a reputation of being a lax defender, McCants has stepped up in recent weeks on that side of the ball.
The wing forward/guard position is manned by a trio of athletes, most notably the Tar Heel defensive stopper Jackie Manuel. Manuel's shot selection has been questionable at times this season, but the 6-foot-5 athletic forward has made up for it on the defensive end. One knock on Manuel this year has been his performance at the free throw line where he's hitting less than 50% of his attempts.
Joining Manuel on the wing is converted football player David Noel, who has moved into the role of undersized power forward this year under Williams' tutelage. Blessed with a muscular frame and incredible athletic ability, Noel is a top shelf post defender and emerging shot blocking threat. Like Manuel, Noel is a poor foul shooter – shooting just 63% on the year.
The third member of this trio is Melvin Scott, who had been Carolina's best outside shooter this year before McCants got hot and Manuel tapered off a bit (39%). Scott has also worked on his ball handling skills to help spell Felton when needed.
Inside the Tar Heels have gotten a lift from hefty center Sean May, who's averaging a double-double (15.0 PPG, 9.9 RPG) night in and night out. While he's one of the best, and most polished centers in the nation on the offensive end, May has struggled with stamina at times this season.
Manning the power forward position has been 6-foot-8 junior Jawad Williams, who has suffered a number of injuries throughout this season. Despite those setbacks, Williams is also one of North Carolina's most consistent outside shooter (34.6%), while working along side May on the boards (5.2 RPG).
Much has been made of North Carolina's lack of depth this season, and for good reason. Aside from the normal seven player rotation there aren't many ACC caliber contributors on the baby blue pine. Sophomores Byron Sanders and Damion Grant are considered long term projects who have done little more than set screens, and grab the occasional rebound for Williams this year.
Thanks to Duke Sports Information for much of this information; Photo courtesy of AP.