Chapel Hill, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Archrivals Duke and North Carolina will close out their regular seasons against one another, as the two Top-25 teams collide in ACC action at the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday evening.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils have climbed all the way to the third spot in the national ranking with a stellar 27-3 overall record. The team was in the hunt for the ACC all season long but just couldn't close the gap on Virginia, which earned its second straight league crown. The Blue Devils have won 10 straight games and sit in second place in the ACC at 14-3. Duke made light work of Wake Forest on Wednesday, 94-51.
Roy Williams' Tar Heels are still jockeying for position in the ACC. North Carolina is 23-7 overall and 11-6 in-conference, good for a fourth-place tie with Louisville. The Tar Heels are also coming off a lopsided win this week, blowing out Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Tuesday, 81-49.
North Carolina holds a 133-106 advantage in this historic rivalry. The first meeting this season lived up to the hype, with Duke edging out UNC in overtime at Cameron Indoor Stadium, 92-90.
Freshman stars have shined bright in Durham this season, but it was another freshman that finally took center stage this week, as Grayson Allen erupted for a career-high 27 points in Duke's rout of Wake Forest. He was just one of five Blue Devils that finished in double figures in the offensive onslaught for Duke, which shot a sizzling .576 from the floor in the game, including 13- of-25 from behind the arc. Matt Jones added 17 points to the cause, while Justise Winslow (13 pts), Quinn Cook (13 pts) and Tyus Jones (10 pts) all got into the act as well.
Duke has shown very few weaknesses this season and is one of the nation's premier offensive squads, both in terms of point production at efficiency. The team enters the weekend ranked in the top-five nationally in both scoring (81.2 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.504). Freshman center Jahlil Okafor is a big reason for that, as he shoots an ACC-best .665 from the floor and paces the team in both scoring (17.8 ppg) and rebounding (9.4 rpg). A senior, Cook is the team's resident sniper, shooting over 40 percent from long range (84- of-208) and putting up 15.8 ppg. Winslow (12.4 ppg) and Jones (11.4 ppg, 5.6 apg) have made immediate impacts as freshmen as well.
Not many teams can match Duke's offensive firepower, but as the Tar Heels proved in the first meeting, they certainly can. UNC comes into the season finale averaging 78.2 ppg on a healthy .472 shooting, while also holding a strong edge in rebounding with a +8.6 rebounding margin. Guard Marcus Paige is the straw that stirs the drink in Chapel Hill, as he paces the team in both scoring (13.2 ppg) and assists (4.4 apg). Balance comes up front in the form of forwards Brice Johnson (12.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and Kennedy Meeks (12.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg). Justin Jackson (9.9 ppg) and J.P. Tokoto (8.7 ppg) give the team a couple more options at the offensive end.
For the second time this season, UNC made light work of Georgia Tech, this time routing the Yellow Jackets at McCamish Pavilion behind an impressive .531 shooting. Joel Berry II got some extended minutes and took full advantage, netting a season-high 15 points in the win. Jackson checked in with 13 points, while Nate Britt added nine points. Meeks, Tokoto Isaiah Hicks all finished with eight.