Coach Roy Williams has known as Duke freshman standout Zion Williamson the “full package” and an “incredible physical specimen” amongst different compliments. Nicely, his Tar Heels get an opportunity to see the projected No. 1 NBA draft choose up shut for the primary time Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Durham.
The Blue Devils (23-2, 11-1) are main the difficult ACC, having constructed up an NCAA event résumé worthy of the highest general No. 1 seed. That might change with the Tar Heels (20-5, 10-2) going through their archrivals with a lot to show — in each the convention title race and as a presently projected No. 2 seed in USA TODAY Sports’ latest NCAA bracketology.
That is the primary of two late-season matchups between the 2 groups with UNC internet hosting Duke within the ACC finale for each groups March 9.
Who wins? What are the keys to the sport? Our consultants weigh in:
Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports activities
► THE PICK: North Carolina
► THE REASON: Sure, Duke is the favourite for a lot of causes and R.J. Barrett is coming off a triple-double efficiency however UNC has the substances to stage an upset. North Carolina can rating and that is half the explanation they’re going to be on this recreation. And whereas a lot of the main focus has been placed on who can cease Barrett or Zion Williamson, not a lot has been mentioned about UNC’s inside power (the ‘Heels are top-of-the-line rebounding groups within the nation) that enhances its three-point marksmanship significantly better than Duke’s.
Nassir Little, a 6-6 athletic freshman, would be the X-factor on this recreation. He is received the size to protect Duke’s freshman superstars higher than most groups. The purpose guard duel between UNC’s Coby White and Duke’s Tre Jones may even be vital. The 2 groups which have crushed Duke — Gonzaga and Syracuse — pressured the Blue Devils to beat them from the skin by taking part in zone and containing their scoring within the paint. It will likely be key for UNC to do the identical factor if it needs to manage the tempo and discomfort a often too-comfortable Duke squad.
Erick Smith, USA TODAY Sports activities
► THE PICK: Duke
► THE REASON: It isn’t simply Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett that makes Duke so troublesome to beat. It’s the contributions of protection and playmaking from Tre Jones and the clutch capturing from Cam Reddish. Such is the problem for North Carolina when it visits Durham. The Tar Heels are taking part in their finest basketball of the season with eight wins of their final 9 recreation. However this seems to be too excessive of a mountain to climb until the trio of Cameron Johnson, Coby White and Luke Maye are all on the highest of their recreation.
Nate Scott, For The Win
► THE PICK: Duke
► THE REASON: This recreation can be nearer than folks assume, and UNC is (considerably) quietly constructing top-of-the-line offenses in faculty basketball, with the No. 2 scoring offense within the nation. However they’re leaky on protection and I am unsure who on their roster will cease dominant Duke freshman Zion Williamson, not to mention his classmates R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish
Tom Schad, USA TODAY Sports activities
► THE PICK: Duke
► THE REASON: Everybody is aware of about Zion Williamson and Duke’s freshman core, however do not overlook the protection on this one. The Blue Devils are presently main the nation in blocks per recreation by a large margin and rank fourth within the nation in each steals per recreation and adjusted defensive effectivity. They need to be capable of lock down North Carolina at residence.
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