You want informed opinions on Duke and North Carolina basketball? Georgia Tech men's coach Paul Hewitt has notched wins against the Blue Devils and Tar Heels this month, while TV analysts Tim Brando and Jay Bilas enjoy a courtside view.
"Head to Head" turned to this trio to offer their perspectives on how Duke and UNC match up.
Fox Sports play-by-play man Tim Brando:
"I would say right now, Duke is the better team. I would say the ceiling for growth potential is probably greater for Carolina than it would be for Duke, because they have so many more new pieces than Duke has. That isn't to say that Duke can't improve or won't improve. They already are.
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"I think the other Plumlee kid [Mason] is the great example at Duke. As he gets better, because he's a different kind of player than Miles, he's a more athletic guy that can do things, face up, create on his own, create his own shot, put the ball on the floor. As he improves, I think Duke gets exponentially better. But again, we know the rest of their pieces. We've clearly defined the rest of the pieces for Duke.
"At Carolina, you're talking about three or four different versions of Mason Plumlee, to me. You know what you're getting with [Jon] Scheyer, you know what you're getting with [Kyle] Singler. You know what you're getting with [Nolan] Smith. And [Brian] Zoubek is certainly improved. He's playing probably about as well as Brian can play. So he's getting I think just about all he can out of his players, which is a trademark of Mike's teams. That's who they are.
"Carolina is not where it needs to be, either in maturation, or at times, and this has been true in the past with Carolina, defensively and effort. If they maximize their effort defensively to go along with improvement in these young players, yeah, Carolina has a higher ceiling for improvement by comparison to Duke.
"But right now, Duke is the better team, and at the end of the year Carolina has a lot of ground to make up to get where Duke is, in my opinion. Because nobody there is playing as well as Scheyer is playing right now. Nobody there is playing as well as Singler at the defensive end of the floor."
Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt: (His team defeated Duke 71-67 on Jan. 9 in Atlanta and edged UNC 73-71 on Saturday in Chapel Hill.)
"The X-factor is Scheyer. Both teams are very, very good. They both have outstanding frontcourts - [UNC has Ed] Davis, [Deon] Thompson, and they have depth off the bench. Certainly Carolina will miss [Tyler] Zeller until he gets back. But right now, I just think Jon Scheyer - he and Sylven Landesberg [Virginia] - are the two best players I've seen in the league this year."
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas:
"Duke is [better] right now. They've got better and more experienced guards. But ... I think this Carolina team, you can compare them [to] ... the 2006 team. The team that won the championship last year was this kind of young in 2006. It may have been better than this team. But I think it's one of those things where you'd better get Carolina now. Because that 2006 team that ultimately became the 2009 championship team, they got knocked down a bunch.
"They got beaten by George Mason that year. They got beaten by Georgetown in the Elite Eight when they were ahead, and they should have won. They got run away from by Kansas the next year.
"But they were toughened as a team by the time they got to the championship. I think [coach] Roy [Williams] is going to be able to build that kind of thing again. The difficulties they're having now, and they're only relative, they're going to serve them well."
Find more on the rivalry at newsobserver.com/ headtohead .