Jim Hawkins/Inside Carolina

UNC vs. Duke Preview

The first two matchups between these heated rivals were so good a third encounter seemed to be a necessity. The Tar Heels and Blue Devils will play once again for a spot in the ACC Tournament finals. Game tips at 7 p.m. on Friday (ESPN/ACCN).

North Carolina (27-6, 14-4 ACC) vs. Duke (25-8, 11-7 ACC)
Brooklyn, N.Y. – Barclays Center
Friday, 7 p.m.
ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas)
ACC Network (Tim Brando, Mike Gminski)

"We lost our first game in the conference season at Georgia Tech, and we did not play well. Our activity level was not there. Our focus was not there. Our effort was not there. Our brain was not there. Since then, we’ve played pretty doggone well. A couple of teams, Duke at Duke, Miami at Miami, Virginia at Virginia, hit us right in the mouth, but we’ve bounced back and played some better basketball after that.” – UNC coach Roy Williams after UNC’s 90-83 win over Duke last week

“I mean, we've played them in the tournament not very often, though, really for 14 years. I think we played them once or twice in the tournament, and it wasn't in Durham or Chapel Hill. I can't even remember where it was. We played them at least once in the tournament.” – Williams on the oddity of facing Duke in the ACC Tournament.

“That was a great game… (Luke Kennard) got to be Luke, and we went to zone and it helped us stay a little bit out of foul trouble. I’m so proud of my guys. They had fun and they played so darn hard. I’m really proud of them. I hope we have something left tomorrow.” – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski on Duke’s ACCT quarterfinal win over Louisville

“We're going to enjoy this for just a little bit before we think about them. The bottom line is we're going to play two Final Four caliber teams in a row in 24 hours. I mean, Louisville and North Carolina are Final Four caliber teams. We just played them, had a great game. If we're fresh enough, I think it will be a great game.” – Krzyzewski on playing UNC for a third time


Heels Conquer the Canes: UNC defeated Miami, 78-53, on Thursday to advance to the ACC Tournament semifinals. Isaiah Hicks carried his recent momentum from the end of the regular season into the tournament, as the senior forward led the Tar Heels with 19 points on 5-7 shooting, including a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line. The Tar Heels blew open a 34-31 game by shooting 53 percent from the floor, including six threes, after halftime and holding Miami to 30.0 percent shooting. UNC’s defense also did its part, forcing 14 turnovers and converting those errors into 21 points.

Duke Survives Against Louisville: In their second game in as many days, No. 5 seeded Duke rallied from a 12-point deficit to upset No. 4 seed Louisville, 81-77. Freshman forward Jayson Tatum delivered one of the best performances of his college career, scoring 25 points in 39 minutes of action. The stretch four was aggressive driving to the basket instead of settling for perimeter shots, as evidenced by his eight free throw attempts compared to two 3-point attempts. Sophomore guard Luke Kennard put together another strong performance, amassing 24 points and 10 rebounds. However, the most important performance of the night arguably came from Grayson Allen. The junior guard was held scoreless in Duke’s second round game against Clemson, but found his stroke against Rick Pitino’s defense. Allen scored 18 points in 28 minutes off the bench. With the win, the Blue Devils continue their quest to be the first team to ever win four games in four days to claim the ACC crown.

Duke Spotlight: The Blue Devils ended the regular season on a skid, losing three of their last four games. The end of the season slate seemed to reflect a tumultuous ACC campaign as a whole, as Duke battled through injuries, Krzyzewski’s back troubles, and the media circus surrounding the suspension of Grayson Allen. Kennard broke out this year, leading the team in scoring (20.1 ppg) and earning First-Team All-ACC honors. Kennard earned those accolades by being one of the most efficient backcourt shooters in the country; the sophomore guard shot 50.4 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3-point land. Tatum also ended the season on a high note, averaging 16 points and 7.3 rebounds per game to earn distinction as as Third-Team All-ACCer. Duke ranks 10th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency (120.3), per kenpom.com.

Matchup to Watch: Allen has been coming off the bench for the last four games since injuring his ankle in mid-February, He’s been inconsistent in the limited role, but found success in the game at UNC last week. In 23 minutes, the junior scored 14 points, but most importantly, got to the free throw line 11 times. Allen utilized his threat of perimeter shooting – he made seven treys in the first matchup at Cameron Indoor – to create space for driving lanes. The Tar Heels were effective against Miami in their on-ball defense, which limited the need for helping. Duke’s penetrate and kick for 3-point looks is a staple of Krzyzewski’s offensive design, so limiting open shots from long range while defending the drive, both by Allen and Kennard, will be critical on Friday.

Stat of Note: Duke’s quarterfinal win over Louisville was Krzyzewski’s 59th ACC Tournament win, which passes Dean Smith for the most all-time.

Last Meeting: UNC defeated Duke, 90-83, at the Dean E. Smith Center on March 4. The game lived up to the rivalry’s hype, consisting of 23 lead changes and 14 ties, but it was the play of Joel Berry that propelled the Tar Heels to victory. Berry ended the game with a game-high 28 points, including a perfect 5-5 from 3-point range in the first half.

Series Record: The Tar Heels lead the all-time series, 135-109. The Blue Devils have won 12 of the last 17 meetings.

Projected UNC Starters:
2 Joel Berry (6-0, 195, Jr.) – 15.1 ppg, 3.7 apg
3 Kennedy Meeks (6-10, 260, Sr.) - 12.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg
4 Isaiah Hicks (6-9, 242, Sr.) - 11.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg
44 Justin Jackson (6-8, 210, Jr.) – 18.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg
1 Theo Pinson (6-6, 211, Jr.) – 6.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg

Top Reserves:
5 Tony Bradley (6-11, 240, Fr.) –7.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg
0 Nate Britt (6-1, 175, Sr.) – 4.4 ppg, 2.3 apg
32 Luke Maye (6-8, 235, So.) – 5.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg

Projected Duke Starters:
0 Jayson Tatum (6-8, 205, Fr.) – 16.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg
15 Frank Jackson (6-3, 205, Fr.) – 10.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg
5 Luke Kennard (6-6, 202, So.) – 20.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg
21 Amile Jefferson (6-9, 224, Sr.) – 11.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg
13 Matt Jones (6-5, 204, Sr.) – 7.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg

Top Reserves:
1 Harry Giles (6-10, 240, Fr.) – 4.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg
3 Grayson Allen (6-5, 202, Jr.) – 14.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg

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