Before every match-up between these two teams, we are reminded of the rich history and short distance that separates two of college basketball's greatest teams and the best rivalry in college sports of now and then. Make no mistake, North Carolina is a team of immature and confused high-school failures this season while Duke is a team loaded with talent and wins on record. Forget you just heard this though, it only makes the slightest detail in Wednesday's game.
When Dicky V goes into detail with the CAPS LOCK on about how exciting this game is as if it's the first Super Bowl in ten years you might roll your eyes, but as a fan you enjoy it. It's like someone telling you," I love you!" You smile and say I know. Even if the person telling you that is Dickey V throwing the English language at you nearing 100 MPH.
"A boobety-bopety-blah-blue-blah-blah North Carolina and um boobety-bopety-blah-blah Duke and um oh my **** God! It's Coach "mother ****" K!" The game starts at 9:00 pm and my parents will be pissed, but enough about Dick Vitale and more about the exciting match-up taking place tomorrow night in Chapel Hill.
I will divide this blog into three defining sections: "Carolina Does Not Suck... They blow", "Duke Does Not Suck (This Season)" and "So Who will be Wearing their Colors Tomorrow?"
I. Carolina Does Not Suck... They Blow
This season I predicted the Tar Heels would fall in the Elite Eight. After a couple of weeks, reality set in, ushering a new thought of mind: Carolina blows this year. No tears were shed in the enlightenment process because I figured by predicting the heels would only make it to the Elite Eight that would mean I know they're going to suck. I know what you are thinking: he's a spoiled college basketball fan who doesn't understand the meaning of suck. The truth is, if this is your thinking, you are probably half-right; Carolina does not suck, they absolutely BLOW. Look at the talent and glance at the W-L record and the only thing that justifies the latter is the Fresh. or Soph. next to each players name:
David Wear F (McDonald's All-American)
Travis Wear F (McDonald's All-American)
Dexter Strickland G (McDonald's All-American)
John Henson F (McDonald's All-American)
Larry Drew II (McDonald's All-American)
Ed Davis (McDonald's All-American)
Tyler Zeller (McDonald's All-American)
Marcus Ginyard ('09 Champion and returning senior)
Deon Thompson ('09 Champion and returning senior)
Seems like a solid team. Extremely youthful and energetic with a few gray hairs in Ginyard and Thompson. Now turn your half-filled glass... actually, you know what? Pick it up, take a little sip to enjoy what you can and smash the **** out of that glass and stomp your foot on the shattered pieces as you look disgusted knowing that every last drop of that water will evaporate in a matter of weeks. That's my insightful analysis on the basketball program of North Carolina.
You want my quick insightful comparison between the two programs? Duke has guards, North Carolina... blows. Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer make up the best back court outside of the SEC. Larry Drew II and Marcus Ginyard... blow. Recently, Drew II has been playing better, but at this point "better" isn't enough to stop the Tar Heels from going 1 for 7 since winning against Virgina Tech in Chapel Hill.
"N-I-T, N-I-T!" "College of Charleston? College of who?" "Top 25? Ha!" I've endured a lot and heard it all this season and I take it. I don't try to rub in the fact that they all shut their mouths when he won some significant honor and I don't point out that this is what happens to championship teams after four of their starters head to the NBA. Do you know why? Because I get to do that next year (but I won't elaborate on that for now).
II. Duke Does Not Suck (This Season)
A few weeks ago Pat Forde from ESPN.com gave readers the truth about the Duke basketball program after mentioning they were one of twelve teams that could win it all.
"Why the Blue Devils can't win it: We've seen this movie before. Duke blazes impressively out of the gates, is confronted by its limitations (size, depth or athleticism) in the latter third of the regular season, then hits the wall in March. The Devils haven't won more than two games in an NCAA tournament since 2004, despite having No. 1 seeds twice and No. 2 seeds twice as well.
This is yet another good Duke team, with yet another set of apparent flaws. The big men (the young Plumlee brothers, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek) are still nothing special. The leading men, Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler, are still overworked. (Scheyer hasn't played fewer than 36 minutes in a game since December, and Singler has gone the full 40 in each of Duke's last two games.)
The Minutes will believe Duke might have a chance to win it all when it sees the Blue Devils actually advance past the Sweet 16 for the first time since Chris Duhon was in uniform."It's true. Duke has put one of their best basketball teams in recent years on the court this season and if this team doesn't reach the Elite Eight in March, Duke fans should start to wonder when they will. This is a team that doesn't have to flop (unlike before) to win games, but they are still the same bunch of nerdy white kids who will eventually choke in the tournament's first few rounds (definitely like before). I think this team is overrated in some aspects and underrated in others, but I'm not going on record for saying this team sucks because they should have a more than legitimate shot at the Elite Eight.
However, I still don't believe in this team advancing past the Elite Eight. They haven't faced as tough a road schedule as North Carolina has (no College of Charleston references please) and there are several weak spots in their schedule. The margins of victory or defeat, win or loss, former ranking and dome status are included in schedule
W (13) Connecticut (9 points) neutral
W (15) Gonzaga (35 points) neutral
W (19) Georgia Tech (19 points) home
L (17) Georgia Tech (4 points) away
L (NR) Wisconsin (4 points) away
L (NR) North Carolina State (14 points) away
L (11) Georgetown (12 points) away
Duke has yet to play a truly convincing non-conference game and their 2 biggest wins against non-conference teams were played in neutral territory. Their biggest conference win was at home against a team that had previously managed to beat the Duke Blue Devils when they were playing away from Durham. The two games were played less than a month apart. Loosing to North Carolina St. and Wisconsin are no big deal as these type of teams will always get in the way throughout an elite team's season. However, this team may not be at an elite status just yet. Take the Georgetown game for example.
The Duke gang of white boys played away from home and lost for the fourth time on the road to a solid team. Their largest lead of one paled in comparison to Georgetown's 23 and their FG shooting was nearly doubled in comparison. This is not the same Duke team we see every year, but when the tournament comes around in March this just might be the same team down the stretch and so far it looks as though it is.
On a positive note and a note about why I think this is a different team, we can look at their guards and how they have improved this team. The guard play is extraordinary.
Jon Scheyer: 4.0 ppg/ 2.8 apg/ .044% FG
Nolan Smith: 9.7 ppg/ 1.4 apg/ .047% FG
Then we can look at some other players that have improved or have at least gotten a chance to show their value.
Miles Plumlee: 4.7 ppg/ 4.3 rpg/ .114% FG
Brain Zoubek: 1 ppg/ 2.6 rpg/ .040% FG
III. So Who will be Wearing their Colors Tomorrow?
Duke. There's absolutely nothing going for North Carolina and when you have scared players, Duke does not give you the best chance to win. If a miracle is pulled off, I will piss my pants all the way to the morning bus when I give non-Duke fans **** for **** on North Carolina as I flash my Michael Jordan jersey and use profane language to describe how none of the other games mattered as long as "that just happened". Until this happens though, I will keep my mouth shut and hesitate before picking up the broken pieces of my once half-filled glass.
Miracle? Maybe not. If Larry Drew II and Dexter Strickland can play solid minutes and control the offense well, North Carolina has more than a chance. This is where he go to the old cliche of "easier said than done", which in the case of Larry Drew II playing with confidence, is dead-on. If Carolina wins it will happen because either Duke players will get overwhelmed (as they often do in big games) or Carolina will get solid production from 6 of these players:
Larry Drew II
Each of these players averages more than 10 minutes in each game and could make the difference. Pick 6 of these 9 players and you are asking for a lot: a win against the in-state rivals.