Separated less than ten miles apart, the best rivalry in college hoops will deliver another installment this weekend, when UNC travels down Tobacco Road and faces Duke. This is the first time both storied schools meet as unranked teams since
Despite starting the season 3-0 and winning four of their last six, the Tar Heels have shown signs of inconsistency. After coming in as favorites against Clemson on Tuesday, they’d go onto lose their fifth road game. That’s alarming with a trip to Duke approaching.
UNC’s struggles on the road may be alarming, but Duke’s inconsistencies are even scarier. After winning three straight games, the Blue Devils would drop the following three contests. After picking up a few good ACC wins over Georgia Tech and Clemson, they went into Monday night as favorites on the road against a struggling Miami team and lost.
Duke’s Youth Will Need to Grow
Duke is led up front by Matthew Hurt. The sophomore forward has enjoyed an impressive second season in Durham, averaging 18.8 points per game, leading the team in rebounding, and delivering a reliable presence on an unusually, unsteady team.
Jalen Johnson is the most intriguing player on this team. Prior to his monster slam against Clemson, he posted a 24/15 game against Pittsburgh. This is the type of game he came to Duke for so look for him to be a big factor.
The freshman guard pairing of DJ Steward and Jeremy Roach has played well in home games, with the former scoring double figures in each one. Veterans Wendell Moore Jr. and Jordan Goldwire round out Coach K’s rotation.
UNC’s Size Will Give Them A Chance
The Tar Heels are going to lean on their bigs early, if they can avoid foul trouble. Senior Garrison Brooks and sophomore Armando Bacot have been the keys to North Carolina’s success this season. Aside from them, Caleb Love is the only other Tar Heel to average double figures at 10.3 points per game.
Coach Roy Williams does have a deep, reliable team though. Day’Ron Sharpe is another big body who could give the Blue Devils trouble. Freshman guards RJ Davis and Kerwin Walton have grown as players and may be equipped for this road contest. Leaky Black is their swiss army knife, he reminds me of Theo Pinson.
UNC at Duke Prediction & Pick
It’s tough trusting either of these blue blood schools right now. With both teams showing signs of inconsistency, you may want to lean with your heart. You may want to lean with UNC’s size, but leaning on Duke to win on their home floor may be a safer bet.