No matter their records, whenever the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels play one another, the entire sports world takes at least some interest. This is one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports, and we’ll be in for another edition as the two teams tip off against one another on Wednesday.
Duke will be looking to continue its current streak, which has gotten the Blue Devils back into the top 10 after a three-week absence. After having a rough go to start the New Year, with losses against Notre Dame and Clemson, the Blue Devils have rebounded by winning seven of their last eight. The only loss came against then-ranked #2 Syracuse, in a 91-89 thriller. The Blue Devils, led by freshman Jabari Parker, look to finally be hitting on all cylinders, which they’ll need if they hope to pad their resume for the March tournament.
North Carolina started the season as the 12th ranked team in the nation. However, an 83-80 loss to Belmont in just the third game of the season opened some eyes at the weaknesses this Tar Heels team has. In early December they had a huge win over Michigan State, who was the top ranked team in the nation at that time. But things got off to a rough start once the Tar Heels hit ACC play, dropping their first three games in conference play. Things have once again turned around a bit and North Carolina has won six of their last seven. That streak was good enough to get the Tar Heels one vote in the AP Top 25 rankings, which could be bolstered even further with a win against Duke on Wednesday.
Throughout the season the Tar Heels have been led by Marcus Paige, a sophomore who averages 17 points and 4.6 assists per game. Those marks are good enough to top Carolina in both category. On the boards, James McAdoo leads the team by pulling down 6.8 rebounds per game, while also helping Paige with 15 of his point points per contest.
Duke and Carolina also sit at the fourth and fifth spots, respectively, in the ACC. Although a win on Wednesday wouldn’t be enough for the Tar Heels to jump Duke in the standings, it could be a vital tally in the win column for the remainder of the schedule.
The Blue Devils and Tar Heels will play once again in the season finale for both teams. Next time it will be in Durham, so the last thing that North Carolina wants to do is drop one with the home court advantage they have on Wednesday night.
The free pick will be posted the day of the game and can be found HERE