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Duke Prepared for First Battle with UNC

February 12, 2014


What defensive matchup is your key for the Carolina-Duke game?

Jones Angell: It has to be guarding the three-point line. That has been such a large part of Duke's offense for several years now, and Duke might be even better this season at shooting that particular shot. They lead the league with better than nine made three-pointers per game, and they're shooting better than 40 percent from the arc as a team. Carolina doesn't have a single individual player who is shooting that well from three.

Duke has multiple players who can hurt you in that regard. It's a constant part of their offense, and they will look to do it in transition, in the half court, or even after offensive rebounds.

Adam Lucas: You hit on something at the end there that is my key. There's no question that Duke's three-pointers are dangerous. You have to essentially accept that they are going to make some three's. What Carolina can't allow to happen is Duke getting offensive rebounds, and then converting a second or third chance at a perimeter shot. The Blue Devils take long shots, so there are going to be lots of long rebounds. Keeping them off the glass is not just dependent on the big guys. It's also going to fall to the Carolina guards, who have to keep an eye on those athletic shooters around the arc and make sure they don't sneak in and grab an offensive rebound.

So many times in a game like this, it feels like it's not the first three-pointer that is a momentum breaker. It's the three-pointer they hit on the second or third try that is a real killer. The Tar Heels have to limit those.

What's your offensive matchup to watch?

AL: Carolina has to create some points off the dribble. When they've been at their best in this rivalry, it's been because the guards can take advantage of Duke's defensive overplays, get to the basket, and score once they get there. Nate Britt and Marcus Paige are going to have to get some penetration. The Blue Devils don't have an especially intimidating group of post players guarding the rim. If the Carolina guards are able to get into the paint, they have to be able to turn those chances into points.

JA: We've seen good examples of that just in the last few years of this series. Ty Lawson had as much individual success from the guard position as anyone in this rivalry because he was so good at getting into the lane. Kendall Marshall was able to get into the paint and either score himself or find a teammate for an easy basket.

With this year's Carolina team, the key has to be the offensive glass. The Tar Heels are not great shooters, but they get a lot of points on second and third chance opportunities. This has become a team that is winning with defense and rebounding. To me, no matter who the Tar Heels are playing, they have to hit the offensive glass and get those points off offensive rebounds.

AL: Even moreso this year than in past years, it feels like this is such a contrast between two different styles. Duke is great at shooting the three and Carolina isn't. Carolina is great at taking advantage in the paint and Duke isn't. In all likelihood, the Tar Heels are going to shoot a higher percentage from the field than the Blue Devils. But do a whole bunch of two-pointers outweigh a good amount of three-pointers? We're going to find out Wednesday night.

JA: That matchup in the paint is going to be key. Duke does not have a lot of size and has struggled against some high-scoring big men this year. Garrick Sherman had a big day against them in an upset at Notre Dame. Carolina needs at least one big man to score efficiently in the paint. There's a chance for Brice Johnson, James Michael McAdoo or Kennedy Meeks to have a big day offensively.

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