Previewing Duke

It's UNC vs. Duke, the best rivalry in college basketball. As if that wasn't enough, the ACC regular season title is on the line, as well as perhaps a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Tip-off at Cameron Indoor Stadium is set for 9 p.m. and will be nationally televised by ESPN.

North Carolina (28-2, 13-2) vs. Duke (26-3, 13-2)
Durham, N.C. - Cameron Indoor Stadium
9 p.m., ESPN


"It's exciting and it's March, a great time for basketball. It's a great opportunity to get a chance to play against a terrific team and a quality program with a great tradition." – Duke guard Greg Paulus

"They're intelligent. The guy over there didn't win 800 games by playing Tiddlywinks every morning. I love the makeup of their team… They do have a weakness – they don't have that big guy. But they also have the strengths that their big guys can make you go out on the floor." – UNC head coach Roy Williams

"We got a title game Saturday, then we're going to the ACC Tournament and we'll play for a title there, then we're going for a regional championship and a national championship. It's the time of year when we need everyone to come together and be excited about playing." – Duke guard DeMarcus Nelson

Season to Date: Duke enters Saturday night's showdown with rival North Carolina with a 26-3 (13-2 ACC) record. The Blue Devils appeared in control of the conference after defeating the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill on Feb. 6, but Mike Krzyzewski's squad stumbled in back-to-back road losses at Wake Forest (86-73) and at Miami (96-95). Duke also needed a late rally to knock off ACC cellar-dweller N.C. State (87-86) last Sunday in Raleigh. The Blue Devils have scored 80 or more points 19 times this season, including 11 of their last 14 contests. They are 18-1 in those games.

Paulus at the Point: Junior Greg Paulus leads the ACC with a 2.45:1 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference games this season, which is also the fifth-highest in school history. The Syracuse, N.Y. product has recorded 49 assists compared to just 20 turnovers in 15 league contests, and has helped the Blue Devils to a 1.10 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference play – second-best to North Carolina's 1.11.

Nelson Continues a Stellar Senior Campaign: DeMarcus Nelson elevated his play during the early-going of his final season as a Blue Devil, and he's even gone a step further in conference play. The Elk Grove, Calif. native ranks among the league leaders in ACC-only stats in scoring (eighth - 17.5 ppg), field goal percentage (first - .533) and steals (t-fourth- 2.00 spg). The shooting guard is one of just seven players in Duke history to record at least 1,250 points, 550 rebounds, 200 assists and 125 steals in a career – Nelson has 1,291 points, 576 rebounds, 209 assists and 140 steals.

Second-Half Shooting: Duke is knocking down 47.1 percent of their field goal attempts for the season (2nd best in the ACC), but its shooting touch in the second half of games has made Krzyzewski's squad particularly tough to beat down the stretch. The Blue Devils are shooting 48.2 percent from the field during the final 20 minutes for the season. Nelson, freshman forward Kyle Singler (14.4 ppg), sophomore guard Jon Scheyer (11.2 ppg), sophomore forward Lance Thomas (4.0 ppg) and sophomore center Brian Zoubek (2.55 ppg) are all shooting over 49.0 percent in the second half of games.

Bench Production: Last season, Duke's bench was essentially nonexistent, contributing just 14.4 points per outing. Things have improved dramatically for Krzyzewski during the current 2007-08 campaign. A Blue Devil has come off the bench to score in double-figures 32 times this season, including a school record six 20-point efforts. Overall, Duke reserves are averaging 27.2 points per game, while outscoring their opponent's counterparts in 19 of 29 games this season.

Last Meeting: Duke drilled 13 of its 29 3-point attempts in defeating North Carolina, 89-78, on Feb. 3 at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill. Tyler Hansbrough posted 28 points and 18 rebounds in the Tar Heels' first full outing without starting point guard Ty Lawson. UNC connected on just 3-of-17 attempts (17.6 percent) from long range, marking the lowest percentage for the Tar Heels since shooting 14.3 percent from downtown against Southern Cal in the NCAA Tournament.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Duke, 127-97, and has won four of the last six meetings, including the last two in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke owns a 47-44 record in games played in Durham, and has won eight of their last 11 games in Cameron Indoor Stadium since the 1996-97 season. The Blue Devils lead the series, 38-32, at Cameron.

Projected Starters:
 3 Greg Paulus (6-1, 185, Jr.) – 10.9 ppg, 3.4 apg
21 DeMarcus Nelson (6-4, 200, Sr.) – 15.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg
15 Gerald Henderson (6-4, 210, So.) - 12.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg
12 Kyle Singler (6-8, 220, Fr.) - 14.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg
42 Lance Thomas (6-8, 220, So.) – 4.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg

Key Reserves:
30 Jon Scheyer (6-5, 180, So.) – 11.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg
20 Taylor King (6-6, 230, Fr.) – 6.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg
 2 Nolan Smith (6-2, 180, Fr.) – 6.4 ppg, 1.6 apg
55 Brian Zoubek (7-1, 260, So.) – 3.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg
14 David McClure (6-6, 200, Jr.) – 1.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg

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