The North Carolina Tar Heels are currently on a five-game winning streak in the ACC, and it is safe to say that they have been dominating their opponents as of late. Finally, everything seems to be falling into place for the young Tar Heels team, but now they are in the toughest part of their season. On Wednesday, they take on their most profound rival in the Duke Blue Devils, and we all know just how significant this mathchup is. This is without a doubt the greatest rivalry in all of college sports, and it is always an all out brawl to the end, so are the Tar Heels ready?
Well, I believe that they are more than ready to take on their bitter in-state rival. The Tar Heels have been outscoring their opponents by more than 10 points per game during their win streak, and they are also ranked 9th in the nation in rebounding this season. Marcus Paige is playing like one of the top guards in not only the ACC, but the country as well, while James Michael McAdoo is finally living up to his freshman year expectations. The two, when playing up to their star caliber, are a combination that are acknowledged by many, but stopped by few.
As for the rest of the team, Leslie McDonald has proved to coach Roy Williams that he is a vital addition to the starting lineup. His three-point shooting numbers could use some improvement, but his size and strength at the guard position could really throw off a defense, and it has. J.P. Tokoto brings a tremendous amount of athleticism to this young Tar Heels team, and despite having guard-like size, he is a threat in both the front and the backcourt.
In the Tar Heels’ last game against Notre Dame, Tokoto was nearly unstoppable. Although he failed to knock down a numerous amount of open shots, he killed the Irish in transition and was able to cash in on several momentum-changing opportunities. Kennedy Meeks is finally comfortable in his own skin, and even though he did not have a great outing against Notre Dame, he is bound to comeback against Duke and head fake his way past every forward in the frontcourt.
Also, I cannot mention the Tar Heels’ frontcourt without mentioning Brice Johnson, who has been the only bench player to score in double digits consistently since God knows when. His athleticism and ability to soar over defenders will be something to watch on Wednesday.
I know I have only just boasted about the Tar Heels’ current talent, and that may not say whether or not they are ready to take on Duke, but really look at just how far this team has come as a whole.
In the beginning of ACC play, they had absolutely no sense of urgency, and Paige and McAdoo were basically in charge of saving the Tar Heels’ season. Now, they have a balanced attack in each game, and their momentum has sky rocketed throughout this five-game win streak.
For a team that has relied on their freshmen and sophomores throughout the season, they have showed more maturity than any other team in the ACC. They could have given up on their season when they began conference play 0-3, but they did not. They could have let a small win streak get to their heads, but they did not, and they expanded it to five games.
If anyone believes that Duke should run away with this game due to their talent on the court, then they are sorely mistaken. Duke has been just as inconsistent as the Tar Heels this season, but the only difference is that the boys from Chapel Hill have more heart than anyone in the conference.
If you think I am wrong, then just watch the game on Wednesday. Talent on the court does not win games, heart and a sense of urgency does. If there was a stat category for that, then the Tar Heels would be right at the top in the nation, and that is why they are more than ready to dominate the Blue Devils.