What: ACC Championship
Where: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
TV: ESPN/ACC Network
Records: UNC 26-6, Duke 29-4
ACC Tournament Results: UNC: def. Miami 61-59, Clemson 92-87(OT); Duke: def. MD 87-71, VT 77-63
So last week these two played for all the marbles in the ACC regular season. Now we have found more marbles to play for in the ACC Tournament and possibly a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This sort of thing, above all others, is what makes this the greatest rivalry in college sports. Not only do we hate these guys which makes losing to them is annoying as heck. When you add to that the high stakes of championships and tournament seeds it moves to a whole new level.
If we extrapolate anything from the first two games of the tournament for each team you could surmise Duke, who won by an average of 15 points is in a better position than UNC who needed a buzzer beater and OT to win their games. Ken Pomeroy certainly thinks that seeing he is giving UNC only a 32% chance of winning. However, by all account this is still a bad matchup for Duke. Harrison Barnes has twice neutralized Kyle Singler and it has taken big efforts from both Nolan Smith and Seth Curry to keep Duke anywhere close to UNC. The question is whether Duke has made adjustments to account for those matcups.
For UNC, the issue right now is the propensity they have had since tournament play started to get off to rough starts. The Heels have come out in two games very tentative and turnover prone. That permitted both Miami and Clemson to jump out to huge leads. This cannot happen versus Duke. I know I keep saying that UNC cannot afford start games this way because it will eventually burn them but this time it is really true. I promise. Another point of concern is Kendall Marshall's play which was huge in the win over Duke last week. Marshall has not played well in Greensboro despite having 19 assists in two games. He will need to step up his game if UNC is going to keep the ball rolling versus Duke. Then there is Barnes. Can he take the game over again? Are we witnessing a Randolph Childress-type performance or will defending Singler and Duke's defense bottle him up? That might be the storyline to watch as well as the periphery players on each team. Sometimes there is a player like Leslie McDonald for UNC or even Ryan Kelly for Duke that come up with a clutch performance to buoy his respective team.
I will be honest, I don't have a good feeling about this and as such I am going for the reverse mojo prediction here.
Duke 77 UNC 72