The UNC Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils are both ranked in the top-5 and are set to face off in a Saturday night rematch in Chapel Hill. What storylines surround Round 2 of the Tobacco Road showdown?
March is a month of stories and legends, where players and teams are able to make a lasting mark on the sport of college basketball as the regular season draws to a close and the heat of postseason competition looms. The greatest of stories, of course, is the Tobacco Road rivalry between Duke and UNC, who are set to face off in a Saturday night rematch in Chapel Hill. Saturday’s affair presents the twelfth occasion where the two teams met while both ranked in the top-5 of the AP Poll, with UNC winning six of the previous 11 matchups.
The No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels and No. 4 Duke Blue Devils will meet for part two of college’s greatest rivalry with the Blue Devils hoping to avenge their February loss at Cameron Indoor, where Krzyzewski and co. were upset 88–72 in a game that saw prized freshman star Zion Williamson exit the game in the first minute due to injury.
In the four games and 39:24 since Williamson was forsaken by his Nike sneaker, the Devils of Durham have been struggling to play in his absence. Duke is 3-2 in its last five games, with losses against UNC and Virginia Tech and games against Syracuse and Wake Forest were far too close for comfort.
On the other side of the rivalry, the Tar Heels are playing some of their best ball of the season, winning 13 of their last 14 games, with wins over the likes of Virginia Tech, Louisville, NC State, Duke, Florida State, Syracuse and Clemson — essentially punching down on the seven teams ranked below them in the ACC standings. To add on to their success, the Heels became just the second team to finish the ACC slate with a 9–0 road record (UVA did so last season).
With the combination of Duke’s recent struggles, Williamson’s injury concerns, and UNC’s strong play, there’s no shortage of things to talk about for Duke-UNC Round Two.
Here are the three biggest storylines heading into Saturday’s highly-anticipated rematch.