Previewing Duke

It's time for Round II of the top rivalry in college basketball. Less than a month after their first thrilling matchup, North Carolina travels to Duke (27-2, 14-1), as the Blue Devils are coming off a loss at Florida State. Saturday's showdown tips-off at Cameron Indoor Stadium at 9 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

No. 13 North Carolina (20-6, 11-4) vs. No. 1 Duke (27-2, 14-1)
Durham, N.C. -- Cameron Indoor Stadium
Saturday, 9 p.m., ESPN-HD, ESPN2-HD, ESPNU
ESPN: Brad Nessler, Dick Vitale, Doris Burke


coming soon ...


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 14-1 ACC record are victories over UNC, NC State and Boston College. The Blue Devils lost at Florida State on Wednesday, 79-74, as J.J. Redick shot 10-of-28 from the field (4-14 3pt) for 30 points, while the team committed 17 turnovers and both starting post players fouled out.

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 (42.6% 3pt), from mid-range (55.1% 2pt) or by driving to the hoop and drawing a foul (88.3% FT). Shelden Williams is the ACC's leading rebounder (10.3) and shotblocker (3.7), as well as ranking fourth in the conference in steals (1.97). 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 18.8 points, while shooting 59% from the field.

Statistical Distinctions: For a team ranked No. 1 in the nation and with a 27.2 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. 2 in blocked shots and steals and No. 1 in three-point percentage defense. Yet, Duke is second to last in the ACC in both field goal percentage defense and offensive rebounds --- and one of only three teams in the conference with a negative 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 40.3% 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 47% on their two-point attempts.

First Matchup: The Feb. 7 meeting in Chapel Hill lived up to its billing. The Tar Heels put together a big second half that turned a 17-point deficit into a five-point lead, until J.J. Redick (35 points) and the Blue Devils battled back for a 87-83 win. Reyshawn Terry (17 points) led five UNC players in double-digits, but the Heels shot just 40% on the evening and committed 21 turnovers.

Series History: Carolina leads the all-time series with Duke, 124-96. u Duke leads the series 47-42 in games played in Durham. The Tar Heels have lost eight of their last nine games in Cameron Indoor Stadium since the 1996-97 season (defeating the Blue Devils in 2000-01). Duke leads the series, 38-30, in Cameron Indoor Stadium. u Overall, Duke has won 16 of the last 19 games in the series. u Carolina and Duke have met 59 times when both teams were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, with Duke leading the series in those games, 31-28. u Carolina is 31-31 against Mike Krzyzewski-coached Duke teams. (Provided by UNC Athletic Comm.)

Projected Starters:
 3 Greg Paulus (6-1, 185, Fr.) – 6.3 ppg, 5.2 apg
15 Sean Dockery (6-2, 185, Sr.) – 8.2 ppg, 2.8 apg
 4 J.J. Redick (6-4, 190, Sr.) – 28.1 ppg, 2.7 apg
 2 Josh McRoberts (6-10, 230, Fr.) – 8.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg
23 Shelden Williams (6-9, 250, Sr.) - 18.8 ppg, 10.3 rpg

Key Reserves:
13 Lee Melchionni (6-6, 205, Sr.) – 6.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg
21 DeMarcus Nelson (6-3, 195, So.) - 7.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg

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Williams ... Redick

McRoberts ... Melchionni

Dockery ... Nelson

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