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UNC vs. Duke: Three Things to Watch

Spoil their evening.

Duke v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

A word of advice: Do not turn on the television until tip-off Saturday.

The retrospectives will be nauseating, but for those that brave the coverage, it will be curious if there will be any balance in the coverage. For example, K’s losing record in Chapel Hill (18-23), or K’s losing record against Dean Smith (14-26). Or even Roy Williams having more postseason success than K since 2003 (national championships 3 vs. 2, Final Fours 5 vs. 3.

Yet, there are other statistics that will not be listed here that Tar Heels will not argue.

Lest I digress.

There is a basketball game Saturday night, and for the North Carolina Tar Heels, an elusive Q1 victory hangs in the balance.

Oh, and being the spoiler to the curtain call.

Tomorrow’s game will be all about heart and soul. Here are a few things to watch in the regular season finale.

Start on Time

Last time against Duke, Carolina did not get 10 points until the 9:44 mark of the first. By that point, the Blue Devils had a 21-point lead.

In the last five minutes of the first half, Duke scored just four points. UNC cut into the lead to make it just an 11-point deficit at halftime.

The Blue Devils came out of the locker room strong, and that was all she wrote for that game.

There were a few good points for UNC in that game. Carolina had four fewer turnovers than Duke, and each team scored the same number of three-pointers with the Tar Heels attempting three more.

Also, the teams were nearly even at the foul line with Carolina going 10-15 and Duke 10-13.

However, UNC suffered one of the most lopsided rebounding efforts in recent memory. Duke outrebounded Carolina 40-24.

Despite the same number of field goal attempts from both teams, the Blue Devil defense forced 10 less makes from the Tar Heels.

In tomorrow’s environment, it will be more important than ever for the Tar Heels to start on time. If Carolina can land the first punch and keep Duke on the ropes for the first few minutes, UNC will give themselves a fighting chance.

Caleb Love

The most electrifying performance of Caleb Love’s career was against Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium last year.

He was aggressive getting to the basket, was four of five from beyond the arc, and tallied seven assists.

That was Love’s career high of 25 points. He followed that up with a 18-point performance in the sweep of the Blue Devils in what would later be known as Roy Williams’s final home game as head coach of the Tar Heels.

Love has scored more than 20 points 11 times in his career, and three of those games were against each of UNC’s Big Four rivals: Duke, NC State, and Wake Forest.

Another four were versus ACC opponents, and another was against a ranked opponent.

In all 11 games where Love scores more than 20 points, the Tar Heels have won.

Love will be the difference for Carolina tomorrow night. He has the ability to change the outcome of the game, just like on Monday night versus Syracuse.

It has been said before on this site, but here it goes: As Love goes, so goes the Tar Heels.

Be the Spoiler

Here’s an interesting fact: Coach K did not face an unranked UNC team until January 17, 1990. It took 23 games in the rivalry for Duke to be the clear favorite.

The #8 Blue Devils lost that January 1990 game by 19 points, and in the 1990 regular season finale at Cameron Indoor Stadium, fifth-ranked Duke lost by 12 points to unranked Carolina.

And guess who was on those UNC teams? Hubert Davis.

The most important factor for the Tar Heels will be their defensive intensity.

Everyone has seen this team take it to the next level. But it has only been in bursts.

Just think about the last game against Syracuse. The Tar Heels let another player have a career game, but the team eventually turned it around. The Orange did not score a point until halfway through overtime and Carolina already built an eight-point lead.

No one knows what will come in the postseason. With the ACC Tournament held in a faraway land and the team still on the NCAA Tournament bubble, the only known in front of this team is tomorrow’s game.

Change the ending of the sentence that everyone else has already written. Put that scowl on his face. Give him a reason to cuss out the refs. Quiet the hype. Close the curtains yourself.