Durham, NC – Arguably the greatest rivalry in all of sports ranked North ranked Duke Blue Devils meet in the season season title up for grabs.
Roy Williams' Tar Heels were able to set up this showdown at Cameron Indoor Stadium with an 88-64 blasting of Maryland on Wednesday. The win was the sixth straight for UNC and moved the Heels to 13-2, tied with the Blue Devils atop the standings with just one game to play.
The Blue Devils have won seven straight games to stay even with the Tar Heels atop the ACC standings. The team bolstered its current win streak with Tuesday's 79-71 victory over Wake Forest, setting the stage for today's winner-take-all matchup.
This marks the 234th meeting in a series that dates back to 1920. The Tar Heels holds a 131-102 advantage. Duke however, has won five of the last six meetings and is seeking the regular-season sweep after posting a thrilling 85-84 victory in Chapel Hill on Feb. 8 thanks to a three-pointer at the buzzer.
North Carolina is one of the top offensive teams in the country, averaging 82.1 ppg (second nationally). It is a dominant frontcourt that sits center stage in Chapel Hill, responsible in large part for UNC leading the nation in rebounding (45.8 rpg) and rebounding margin (+11.1). The trio of Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson is unstoppable. Barnes can score both inside and out and leads the team in scoring at 17.4 ppg. Zeller (16.2 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and Henson (14.2 ppg, 10.3 rpg) own the paint. Point guard Kendall Marshall doesn't score much (6.8 ppg), but there aren't many distributors better in the country at 9.8 apg (second in the nation).
In his final game at the Smith Center, Zeller put on a show, finishing with 30 points, including an impressive 20-of-23 from the free-throw line. Henson finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Reggie Bullock and Barnes tallied 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Blue Devils are an efficient team with plenty of offensive firepower, averaging a strong 79.0 ppg on .465 shooting. The scoring depth is apparent with four of the team's five starters averaging double figures. It is the instant impact of freshman guard Austin Rivers however, that has fueled the team's success. Rivers, who hit the decisive three-pointer in the first meeting with North Carolina, leads Duke in scoring at 15.3 ppg. Fellow guards Seth Curry (13.6 ppg) and Andre Dawkins (9.3 ppg) and forward Ryan Kelly (12.2 ppg) add to the team's perimeter game. The quartet have combined for 215 three-pointers this year. Brothers Mason and Miles Plumlee provide some grit in the low post. Mason Plumlee is netting 10.8 ppg and ranks second in the ACC with 9.4 rpg. Miles Plumlee (6.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg) is a nice complement up front.
It was Kelly who stepped up and led the Blue Devils in the win over Wake Forest, hitting 4-of-5 from three-point range, while posting a game-high 23 points. Curry added 15 points, while Mason Plumlee and Rivers finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Miles Plumlee scored just three points, but led the way with 11 rebounds.