North Carolina Tar Heels Must Pass Test Against Duke Blue Devils

By Gregory Philson
Marcus Paige
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels are playing great basketball and it may have best been displayed in the come-from-behind road victory over the Florida State Seminoles on Monday. However, during this seven-game win streak, coach Roy Williams‘ Tar Heels have yet to face a team that can match their athleticism.

This will all change when the Duke Blue Devils travel eight miles from Durham to Chapel Hill on Thursday. North Carolina and Duke are both playing at what would seem the height of their powers. North Carolina beat Florida State with James Michael McAdoo spending most of his time on the bench with foul trouble before eventually fouling out. Duke is rounding into form because Jabari Parker is doing it all on offense and playing better defense. During the Blue Devils’ four-game win streak, Parker is averaging 22.3 points per game and 11.5 rebounds per game. He is also playing way more within himself and coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s system. Parker is a problem for any team and should be an absolute terror for the Tar Heels to defend. The Tar Heels’ best chance is to do as much as it can against Parker and let the rest of the team beat them.

On offense, the Tar Heels must continue to feed the post. Duke does not have the interior defense to handle the frontcourt of McAdoo, Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson on offense. This should be a huge advantage for North Carolina. Meeks is coming off a career game of 23 points against Florida State. If he can bring any of the energy displayed against the Seminoles, he could be a difference maker.

While this is a big game for both teams, North Carolina definitely needs a victory here more than Duke. The Tar Heels want to secure a top-four spot in the ACC standings and avoid having to play early in the conference tournament. Losing will not immediately cost the Tar Heels, but winning will certainly give them an edge they need.

Gregory T. Philson is an ACC college basketball writer at Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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