One of the most storied rivalries in college sports history begins its next chapter Wednesday night as the unranked North Carolina Tar Heels travel 12 miles north to take on the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The Tar Heels are struggling mightily this season, but do hold the all-time head-to-head matchup over Duke, 132-102.
The Blue Devils have ripped five straight wins since their embarrassing loss to Miami back in January, and survived a 62-61 squeaker on the road against Boston College on Sunday.
Duke leading scorer Mason Plumlee knocked down the game-clinching free throw with 26 seconds left, and notched 19 points and 10 rebounds, making up for a Blue Devil squad that struggled shooting 40 percent from the field. Guard Seth Curry scored 18 points and made two steals, and Duke advanced to 8-2 in ACC play.
Duke may need freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon to rediscover his scoring touch against the Tar Heels. Sulaimon is second on the team in three-point shooting, but converted just one of his six shots against the Golden Eagles.
North Carolina shared Dukes pain, with two losses to Miami this season, including last week’s 87-61 loss to the Hurricanes. The Tar Heels couldn’t survive a barrage of 15 three-points from Miami, and shot just 38 percent from the field.
Sophomore forward James McAdoo shot 3-for-12 for six points, a far cry from his near 15 points per game, while guard Reggie Bullock netted 14 points and seven rebounds. Once seen as an NBA lottery pick, opponents have found McAdoo’s weakness: free throws. McAdoo is averaging 59 percent from the charity stripe.
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams could take some pressure off of McAdoo and give more touches to sophomore P.J. Hairston, who has scored in double digits in five of the Tar Heels last six games.
The Tar Heels fell out of the Top 25 after just 10 games into the season when they lost to Texas on Dec. 19, and haven’t been ranked since. An upset of Duke on the road could propel them back onto the national stage.
The game tips-off at 9 p.m. eastern time and will be broadcast by ESPN, and can watched live online by inputting your cable provider information at Watch ESPN here.
Betting Odds: Duke is favored by 11 points
Over/Under: 153 points
Prediction: North Carolina can hang with Duke offensively, and has the potential to dominate the boards. But Plumlee is too strong this season, and should have another dominate game in a Blue Devils victory.
Predicted Score: Duke 75 , North Carolina 69