UNC vs. Duke
When: 9 p.m. Where: Smith Center, Chapel Hill
TV/Radio: WBTV, ESPN / 104.3-WHVN, 99.3-WBT
PPG: UNC (76.0), Duke (81.2)
Allowed: UNC (67.9), Duke (66.7)
3-pointers per game: UNC (3.9), Duke (9.5)
Allowed per game: UNC (6.0), Duke (4.1)
How they match up
So. Marcus Paige (6-foot-1, 175 pounds) vs. So. Rasheed Sulaimon (6-foot-4, 190 pounds)
Sulaimon has emerged as Duke’s best option for defending on the ball, but over the course of the year Paige has been UNC’s best player. He can play on or off the ball and is the Tar Heels’ only long-range shooting threat. He has tended to play better late in games instead of wearing down.
R-Sr. Leslie McDonald (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) vs. Sr. Tyler Thornton (6-foot-2, 190 pounds)
McDonald has struggled to hit shots and that continued during UNC’s victory at Florida State, where he went 1-for-8. This has been a rotating spot in Duke’s lineup, with Sulaimon and Quinn Cook’s inconsistent play, but at least Thornton gives them a veteran presence. He is the closest Duke has to an on-court coach, and he has the best court vision, even if his athletic abilities keep him from maximizing all the opportunities he sees.
So. J.P. Tokoto (6-foot-5, 200 pounds) vs. R-So. Rodney Hood (6-foot-8, 215 pounds)
Hood has been Duke’s most complete player and has turned in strong defensive performances against guys like Pittsburgh’s Lamar Patterson. He’s a reliable scorer, too, shooting 52.6 percent overall and 45 percent from 3-point range. Tokoto is the Tar Heels’ best athlete and best perimeter defender, but he faces one of his most difficult assignments of the season.
Jr. James Michael McAdoo (6-foot-9, 230 pounds) vs. Fr. Jabari Parker (6-foot-8, 235 pounds)
McAdoo had averaged more than 18 points and eight rebounds per game during UNC’s winning streak until he went scoreless and fouled out Monday at Florida State. Despite that, McAdoo has been an emotional leader for UNC. Parker, though, is a more polished, versatile offensive player who can drive or post under the basket. There is a reason he’s projected as a top-three pick.
Fr. Kennedy Meeks (6-foot-9, 290 pounds) vs. So. Amile Jefferson (6-foot-9, 210)
UNC coach Roy Williams suggested last week that Brice Johnson might start against Duke, but Kennedy Meeks is coming off his best game – 23 points on 11-of-12 shooting in the victory at Florida State. Jefferson has the athletic edge and has collected the fifth-most rebounds, on a per game average, in conference play. He hasn’t let bigger players push him under the basket while going up for rebounds, either.
Duke takes this one easily, with Cook and Andre Dawkins at its disposal. Marshall Plumlee should be available after straining a tendon in his knee. The Tar Heels will have Johnson, who has been more productive of late, and Nate Britt, whose presence allows Paige to play off the ball.
Mike Krzyzewski will lead the Blue Devils into this matchup as a top 10 team for the 14th consecutive time. He’s also taken this Duke team, which had major defensive issues at the beginning of the ACC season, and turned it into a legitimate contender for the league title.
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