What everyone witnessed today was the present UNC team defeat the future Duke team. And as one would expect in such a game, it was surprisingly dull.
This became especially clear in the second half, where Larry Drew and Ed Davis made only fleeting appearances on the court while senior Bobby Frasor was everywhere defensively for the Heels. The Blue Devils, meanwhile, benched Greg Paulus in favor of more playing time for Eliot Williams and turned the game over to the players that, barring an early exit to the NBA, while be on everyone's preseason all-ACC lists: Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler. The end result was a wormanlike Duke team that UNC consistently led but could not put away, due in part to their poor passing and multiple turnovers. Duke on the other hand could never close the gap with their one-and-done offensive possessions and susceptibility to a Danny Green or Wayne Ellington three.
What sunk in for me in this game was that despite watching a team beat their biggest rival and only challenger for the top seed of the ACC tournament, and in fact beating this team for the sixth time in four years, they never really looked all that impressive. There was little fire, few sustained runs, and a lack of excitement that has characterized much of the season. They, in short, didn't look like a team that could win the national championship. It doesn't feel lie the 2005 season, or even last season. It just... is. Maybe it's a misreading on my part, or an overdose of Big East hype, but I don't see much enthusiasm for March. I can't point to many actual deficiencies in the play - the defense gives up a few too many points, I suppose - but there just isn't much to get excited about. It all seems routine.
Perhaps something will change. Perhaps the pace was just off to protect Ty Lawson's toe. Perhaps I'm just full of it. I hope so, but until I see a spark somewhere in play...