It has come down to the final game of the regular season. In the most storied and heated rivalry in all of sports, Duke and UNC will square off again at the Dean Smith Center on Saturday. It will be the final trip to Chapel Hill for seniors Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly, who are 2-1 in their careers at the Dean Dome.
We remember what happened the last time Duke traveled to Chapel Hill. Tyler Zeller has his best game as a Blue Devil and, along with Austin Rivers, helped propel Duke to a come from behind win. Duke has already beaten UNC this season as they came from behind to win in Cameron Indoor Stadium without the help of Ryan Kelly. Kelly, if you’ve been living under a rock, has been on fire, putting up 36 and 18 points in his first 2 games back from missing the previous 13 games.
UNC is currently on a 6 game winning streak since their last loss (to Duke). They have been playing well with their “small-ball” lineup. No matter how the rest of the team plays, you always have to defend Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston, as they are capable of pulling off their best Duke imitation and dropping a 20-0 run on you in a matter of minutes. Duke’s defense and rebounding are going to be key as both have been suspect for most of the ACC schedule. Duke will also need Mason Plumlee to return to Player of the Year candidate form and Rasheed Sulaimon to break out of his current slump. I believe you can count on Quinn Cook, Seth Curry, and Ryan Kelly to have good games. Curry, by the way, only needs 18 points to reach 2,000 in his career and he averages nearly 16 per game against UNC. He could reach that milestone on Saturday.
Like the first game, I believe this will be a close game that could go either way. If Duke defends and rebounds I believe they win 77-72. If they don’t, then I think you can reverse the score and UNC wins. As always, you never know what will happen in a Duke-Carolina game. But that’s the reason they make it the last regular season game every year and have it during primetime, right?
Chris Summerville is originally from Indian Trail, NC and currently resides in Monroe, NC. He has been a lifetime Duke fan and knows exactly what he was doing when Christian Laettner crushed the hopes and dreams of Kentucky fans (and Aminu Timberlake’s intestines). Chris graduated from UNC Asheville in 2003 with a degree in Multimedia Arts & Sciences. By day he is Creative Director for one of the major billiard companies in the US. By night he prowls the interwebs as the Duke of Hoops. Chris can often be found on Twitter arguing with UNC fans.