From My Sporting Perspective

As many of you know, I picked North Carolina to win this game in my predictions blog that came out only two days ago. However, when I wrote it I had no knowledge of Ty Lawson not being able to play. In fact, if you go back and read it you will notice how much I stressed the importance of the point guard matchup between Lawson and Greg Paulus. Another thing I didn't count on was Wayne Ellington having a subpar game. He shot 3-14 from the field and was 0-6 on threes.

In my defense though, I was correct in Duke not having anyone to stop Tyler Hansbrough underneath. Lance Thomas got in foul trouble just as I thought he would and Hansbrough ended up with 23 points and 18 rebounds. I was, however, greatly disappointed in both team's free throw shooting. The Tar Heels shot 63% from the line and Duke was even worse at 59%. The only Dukies that shot well from the line were Jon Scheyer (7-8 FT) and DeMarcus Nelson (6-7 FT).

I sincerely think that if Lawson plays and Ellington has a half-decent game against Duke next time, they will win the game. What are the chances of the Blue Devils shooting 45% from deep and UNC only shooting 18% on threes ever again? Worth mentioning also is that Duke only had 15 turnovers to UNC's 20.

It's interesting to watch how a game changes throughout the forty minutes though. After the first ten minutes of the game, I thought to myself, "UNC is playing better basketball right now." And, trust me, they were. The Heels were getting nice high-percentage shots inside with Hansbrough, and Duke was coming down settling for three-pointers. There seemed to be no way they were going to keep up that kind of shooting. Yet somehow they did and they ended up going back down Tobacco Road with the win.

Duke has gone into the Dean Smith Center and defeated a top five-ranked North Carolina team a total of four times EVER. The first three times they ended up going all the way to the Final Four and even got to cut down the nets once. But I don't see that happening this time. Yes, they are a Final Four-caliber team but they won't be going all the way this year.

There are currently two reasons as to why Duke will NOT win a National Championship this year. The first is their free throw shooting. I honestly expected them to be much better from the charity stripe this year. On the season, they shoot an average 69%. The second reason is, as I've mentioned many times before, their lack of an interior presence. They couldn't contain Hansbrough or DeJuan Blair when they faced off against Pitt when he went off for 15 points and 20 rebounds.

On the other hand, the biggest reason why North Carolina will NOT win a National Championship this year is Bobby Frasor. His going down with an injury absolutely killed this team's chances. Lawson and Frasor worked beautifully for Roy Williams at the point. Since Frasor has gone out with an injury, Lawson has played a lot more minutes and they've even had to rely on Quentin Thomas at times such as last night. Quite frankly, Thomas scares me at the point. He's a very shaky ball-handler and not the best decision-maker either.

The North Carolina-Duke Rivalry Player of the Game Award goes to Greg Paulus of Duke without a doubt. He hit clutch shot after clutch shot and finished with 18 points on 6-9 shooting to go along with his three assists and three rebounds. I believe that his three-pointer in which he was knocked down on could very well have been the biggest and most important play of the entire game.

March 8th. That is the date of the next meeting between these two fantastic teams. Mark it down on your calenders right now. Ty Lawson will most likely be back but Duke will be at home in Cameron Indoor Stadium which is, in my opinion, the toughest place to play in all of college basketball. But there is still a lot of basketball between now and then for the entire nation. Don't forget to read my Game-Planning blogs every week to find out that particular week's biggest matchups. Have a good day and thanks for reading.

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