Friday, March 2, 2012

UNC @ Duke: Here We Go Again!

Anyway the 2nd match up is as good as the first?  Fo Sho!
So here we are, just where we thought we'd be.  Duke and UNC at the top of the ACC, tied, in conference record and in overall record.  There is much more than bragging rights on the line Saturday evening.  There is a regular season ACC title and likely the inside lane on a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, barring a collapse in the ACC tournament.  Austin Rivers kept Duke in their previous match up and then ended the game with a dagger buzzer beater over the outstretched arms of Tyler Zeller.  Is there any chance that the second match up matches the thrill of the first one?  And if it does, is there any chance I should go buy some adult diapers to keep from a repeat of "The Incident", as it is called in our house, from happening again?  

The answer to both of these questions, is yes.

Neither team has lost since their February 8 meeting.  Not that there haven't been some hiccups here and there, but they have always come out with the win.  So that brings us to Saturday.  Let's look at the keys to the match up and then I'll give my prediction for what will happen and who will walk out of Cameron with the ACC title in their hands.

Keys for Duke:

Plumlees control Henson and Zeller inside - In the first match up, the brothers Plumlee were dominated by the UNC big's to the tune of Zeller/Henson combining for 35 points and 28 rebounds in comparison to the Plumlee boy's 11 points and 17 rebounds.  They were bailed out by Rivers' big game, but they must control the Zeller/Henson combo defensively and at least give Duke something on the offensive end.

Shoot the 3 well...again - Out of 27 field goals made in the first meeting, 14 of them were three point makes for Duke.  Safe to say they lived and died by the three, and won the game on a the fourteenth.  It's no secret that the three is as important to Duke as it is to almost any team in the country.  An off shooting night will spell death for the Dukies.

Get big contribution from Andre Dawkins - Dawkins is one of Duke's most lethal scorers and definitely lethal shooters.  When Andre plays well, Duke wins.  In the 13 games in which Dawkins has scored in double figures, Duke is 12-1, with the only loss coming in a buzzer beating heartbreak by Florida State.  In Duke's most lopsided loss to Ohio State (85-63), Dawkins played 19 scoreless minutes.  Dawkins is a huge key for Duke and takes a lot of the scoring pressure off of Rivers and Curry if he gets it going, and also plays a better all around game win his shot is falling.

Keys for UNC: 

Don't forget about Zeller - Tyler Zeller had 19 points in the first half against Duke in early February, in the second half he only scored 4.  UNC has a tendency to forget about Tyler Zeller, and that is usually to their detriment.  Zeller is a superior big man to any of Duke's and showed he can have his way with them in the previous meeting's first half.  The guards of UNC cannot forget to feed him, to keep UNC getting easy buckets and the Plumlees in foul trouble.

Play your game, all game - To me, UNC lost the last game mainly because they stopped playing their run and gun style and started trying to melt clock.  Roy Williams coached squads play the game well in one style, RUN!  It can hurt any team, with any style, to stop running their normal offense and trying to melt the clock.  It gets you out of your offensive rhythm and once the game tightens back up (as it usually does) you can't get it back.  This is even more true for a fast paced squad like UNC, and it showed last game.  Roy needs to keep the peddle to the metal and put Duke away if they have a lead, late in the second half.

Handle the Crazies - The best way to handle the Cameron Crazies, is to put them on their seats early.  If UNC can get an early lead and take some of the piss and vinegar out of the crowd, they will have a more pleasant evening.  Even though you quiet them early though, you need to be ready for the "Duke Run" that will get them right back into it, as UNC learned last year when Seth Curry lead a 14 point second half comeback.

Prediction:

You know I have to go with my heart on this one.  I have to take Duke.  Though neither team is playing their best ball right now, I think Duke finds a way at home to pull out the victory.  I expect a big shooting night from Andre Dawkins and a strong performance from senior Miles Plumlee in his final game at Cameron Indoor.

Duke 81 - UNC 75



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