Preview: Duke (20-3) v. N Carolina (21-2)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Tar Heels who tip off in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday night. The game will be broadcast nationally by ESPN beginning at 9:00 PM EST.

Duke (20-3) vs North Carolina (21-2)
Durham, N.C. - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: ESPN / Tip: 9:00 PM EST

Program Vitals
Conference:  ACC
Nickname:  Tar Heels
Colors: Pastel Blue and White 
Head Coach:  Roy Williams (6th season)
Career Record at North Carolina: 163-35

Projected Starters:
14 Danny Green (6-6, 210, Sr.) – 13.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg
21 Deon Thompson (6-8, 245, Jr.) – 11.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg
50 Tyler Hansbrough (6-9, 250, Sr.) – 22.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg
22 Wayne Ellington (6-4, 200, Jr.) – 15.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg
 5 Tywon Lawson (5-11, 195, Jr.) – 15.3 ppg, 6.6 apg

Key Reserves:
 4 Bobby Frasor (6-3, 210, Sr.) – 2.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg
11 Larry Drew II (6-1, 180, Fr.) – 1.9 ppg, 2.4 apg
32 Ed Davis (6-10, 215, Fr.) – 6.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg 
40 Mike Copeland (6-7, 235, Sr.) - 1.0 ppg

Storylines For North Carolina:

How They Got Here:
After winning 18 of their first 19 games the Blue Devils have gone just 2-2 over the last four including falling behind spectacularly against Clemson and Miami. Against the Tigers Duke folded the tents and lost by nearly 30. Against Miami, Duke rallied and held on for the win.

Meanwhile the Tar Heels entered the season and preseason favorites to win the ACC Regular Season, Tournament, and NCAA Tournament championships. After dropping their first two ACC games the Tar Heels have rebounded to reel off seven straight conference victories to sit tied with Duke atop the conference standings after nine games at 7-2.

Series History:
This will be the 226th meeting between the two programs and the 93rd meeting at Cameron. North Carolina leads the all-time series 128-97, though Duke leads the sub-series in games played at Cameron by a 38-33 count. More recently the Tar Heels have won five of the last seven games between the two teams.

Injury Report:
North Carolina will be without sophomore forward William Graves who was suspended for the rest of the season by Roy Williams. Graves had played in 20 games, averaging 4.0 points and 2.6 rebounds. Also, freshman forward Tyler Zeller fractured his left wrist in November. He has begun practicing on a limited basis, but no decision on a return to action has been made. Also, as noted on the front page video preview, Marcus Ginyard is lost for the season for UNC.

Offensive Firepower In Chapel Hill:
Carolina is an offensive juggernaut this season, averaging an amazing 92.3 points per game - which would be the most points per game in program history. Just eight teams in ACC history have averaged 90 or more points per game. The most recent was the 2000-2001 Duke team which averaged 90.7 points per contest.

High scoring teams are nothing new to Williams and UNC. Since coming to Chapel Hill, Williams' teams have scored more than 80 points 135 times. In those games the team has won 121 times. When the Tar Heels post 90 points - which they have done 39 times in the five plus seasons since Matt Doherty decided to resign, the Tar Heels have posted a 68-1 recrod.

Watch Out For...: Much of the offensive prowess has been due to Carolina's number of offensive options. Recently the scoring load has been shouldered by junior shooting guard Wayne Ellington who has averaged 21.3 points per game while shooting 23-of-45 from the perimeter over the last six games. In four of those games Ellington has knocked in 20 or more points including a 34 point eruption against Maryland on February 3rd.

Another big time player (perhaps the big player in terms of ACC discussion) that everyone knows of is Tyler Hansbrough. The senior big man will soon pass Duke's J.J. Redick on the ACC's all-time scoring list. Currently Hansbrough trails Redick's mark by 182 points. Hansbrough is one of just eight players in conference history to score more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Blessed with terrific intensity on the court and an deceptively quick feet, Hansbrough has posted 120 double figure scoring games over the last three plus seasons in Chapel Hill.

Heels Don't Turn It Over Much
Much of the reason for UNC's scoring output has been due to the players' ability to protect the basketball. The regular backcourt grouping of Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, Larry Drew, and Bobby Frasor have combined to dish out 375 assists on the season against just 168 turnovers. That's a 2.23 to 1 as a group. Conversely, Duke's backcourt rotation of Nolan Smith, Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer, and Greg Paulus have logged 191 assists against 145 turnovers or a 1.32 to 1 ratio.

Fearless Prediction
For much of the last few weeks the Blue Devils shooting hasn't been at the same level as early on in the season. In order to beat the Heels at Cameron for the first time in four years, Duke will have to find the range from the perimeter without relying exclusively on such shots. North Carolina scores a ton of points, but doesn't get a lot of scoring help from the bench. By creating early foul trouble via the dribble-drive, Duke will be able to disrupt Carolina's rhythm and control the pace of the game. On paper, North Carolina should win this game and win it comfortably. However, the history of this series shows that such predictions are ultimately worthless and usually no where near being on point. That being said the pick is...


Duke 78
North Carolina 74

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