Tuesday, February 6, 2007

College Basketball Super Bowl Eve (Part 1)


Patrick Kendall

Losses over the same weekend haven’t diminished the excitement for Duke and Carolina fans…in fact, it heightens the tension for a few important reasons:

a. Duke doesn’t want to lose two in a row at home and three in a row overall.
b. Duke doesn’t want to fall to 5-5 in the conference after climbing back from an 0-2 start.
c. Carolina doesn’t want to lose two in a row.
d. A loss for Carolina puts them in jeopardy of losing a number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

So there we have the incentive for tomorrow night’s slugfest. Let’s drill down to the five Key Points for each team I’ll start with UNC.

Key Points

1 UNC must be able to run the ball, get out into transition, and take advantage of their better depth and quickness in order to wear Duke down in the second half.
2 Hansbrough and Wright have to be effective down low.
3 Either Reyshawn Terry or Wayne Ellington has to be effective on the perimeter so that the middle opens up.
4 Ty Lawson has to be a factor offensively, including both scoring and assists while keeping turnovers to a minimum.
5 UNC can’t be out rebounded like they were in their ACC losses because it negates their ability to run.

For Duke it is even tougher because they don’t have some of the personnel luxuries that UNC enjoys.

1. Duke has to control the tempo. The score must be in the 60s, and Duke should really try to be on the high side of the score this time.
2. Paulus has to be able to control (somewhat anyway) Ty Lawson. Better to have him shoot from the perimeter than get to the rim.
3. Jon Scheyer needs to be effective from the three-point line, otherwise Duke is finished. No one else brings consistent long range shooting to the lineup.
4. DeMarcus Nelson and Gerald Henderson must attack the rim and get out in transition in order to get easy points or get to the free throw line – then they have to convert those opportunities into points.
5. McRoberts has to insert himself into the offense from the outset and establish some consistent flow. He needs to score against UNC because he presents a unique match up problem that can be exploited.

If either team is able to achieve these respective Key Points, then they will be in a good position to come away with the win.

In terms of who needs the win more at this point I think it’s a push because there are ramifications for whoever loses. My first instinct is to say that Duke needs the win more at this point simply because they haven’t lost three in a row in seven years and they still have to face Maryland on Sunday. But then I look at Carolina’s side and a second loss in a row knocks them from even a tie for first place in the conference and begins to move them away from a number 1 seed in the Tournament so there is plenty of motivation for them as well

The plain facts are these: Duke and Carolina have played against one another since 1920. Recently, Duke has won 16 of the last 20 games in the series for the last 122 meetings at least one school has been ranked in the AP Top 20 or AP Top 25. Carolina beat them last season at Cameron on Senior Night and celebrated like it was a National Championship.

Both schools boast ridiculously impressive stats. They are two of the five best basketball programs in college history. The programs hate one another. The schools are entirely too close for anything other animosity and even the winner of these games gets state bragging rights for an entire year.

Forget the NBA and their slogan.


I love THIS game.

No comments: