Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
Tuesday, 9 p.m., ESPN/RJ-P
ESPN: Brad Nessler, Dick Vitale, Doris Burke
R/JP: Tim Brando, Billy Packer
"For J.J. to shoot the ball as effectively as he has with the other team's defense aimed at him is about as impressive as it can be." -- Roy Williams
"I know [Shelden]'s a big factor inside, but I don't plan on changing my game any way just because he's a good defender. I'm going to keep on playing my game." -- Tyler Hansbrough
Season To Date: As expected, Duke is one of the best teams in the nation. Playing what has turned out to be one of the toughest schedules in the country (ranked No. 2 by the RPI), the Blue Devils have certainly met expectations, yet have shown they aren't invincible and have struggled to put some inferior teams away down the stretch. The impressive wins have come against Memphis, Indiana and Texas, and included in their 9-0 ACC record are victories over NC State and Boston College. The three questionable performances include the loss at Georgetown, but also two games at home that went down to the wire -- it took a 45-foot buzzer-beater to beat Virginia Tech and then two months later the Blue Devils needed overtime to edge Florida State.
Two Stars: With a lineup that uses only seven players, Duke leans heavily on its stars, J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams, who are the only two players on the team scoring in double-digits. Redick has developed into a well-rounded scorer. He'll beat you from beyond the arc (43.8% 3pt), from mid-range (56.8% 2pt) or by driving to the hoop and drawing a foul (86.9% FT). Shelden Williams is the ACC's leading rebounder (9.8) and shotblocker (3.9), as well as ranking fifth in the conference in steals (2.1). As the returning National Defensive Player of the Year, Williams' reputation is more built around his defense (though a few opposing big men have posted big numbers on him over the last year), but his jumpshot has become consistent enough to be a viable offensive weapon now and he's averaging 18.4 points, while shooting 59% from the field.
Statistical Distinctions: For a team ranked No. 2 in the nation and with a 21-1 record, it's not surprising that Duke's team stats are at the top of the conference in many categories, but they're also at the bottom in some as well. The Blue Devils are No. 1 in the ACC in many offensive categories, such as scoring, scoring margin, free throw percentage and three-point percentage. They also are No. 1 in blocked shots and three-point percentage defense, and No. 2 in steals and turnover margin. Yet, Duke is last in the ACC in field goal percentage defense and offensive rebounds and second to last in rebounding margin. So what can be taken away from all these stats? First and foremost, Duke is a top-notch offensive club and is especially dangerous from beyond the three-point line, where they're 40.2% team shooting would be even better if Lee Melchionni wasn't well below his numbers from last season. It also should be noted that Duke isn't nearly as reliant on the three-point shot as many think. The Blue Devils hit less than eight threes per game, and three-pointers consist of just over a quarter of their point production. On the defensive end, they are great perimeter defenders and have an elite shotblocker in the middle in Williams, but give up a lot of points inside the arc -- Duke's opponents are shooting 48.1% on their two-point attempts.
Series History: UNC leads the all-time series against Duke, 124-95, with a 57-29 record in Chapel Hill, including 12-8 in the Smith Center. The Blue Devils, however, have won 15 of the last 18 matchups. The two teams split their two meetings last season. Duke prevailed 71-70 in Durham and the Tar Heels returned the favor a month later, 75-73, to clinch the ACC regular season title.
Projected Starters: 3 Greg Paulus (6-1, 185, Fr.) – 6.2 ppg, 5.2 apg 15 Sean Dockery (6-2, 185, Sr.) – 8.5 ppg, 3.0 apg 4 J.J. Redick (6-4, 190, Sr.) – 28.1 ppg, 2.6 apg 2 Josh McRoberts (6-10, 230, Fr.) – 7.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg 23 Shelden Williams (6-9, 250, Sr.) - 18.4 ppg, 9.8 rpg Key Reserves: 13 Lee Melchionni (6-6, 205, Sr.) – 7.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg 21 DeMarcus Nelson (6-3, 195, So.) - 6.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Williams ... Redick
McRoberts ... Melchionni
Dockery ... Nelson