NCAA Basketball: Future of the Duke vs North Carolina rivalry

Coach K and Roy Williams are now retired. With two legends gone what does the Duke-North Carolina NCAA Basketball rivalry look like for the future?

In what was the most anticipated college basketball game of all time, North Carolina, who was an eight seed in the NCAA Tournament, took down Duke in another historic chapter of the greatest rivalry in the sport. Coach K’s storied career came to an abrupt end in New Orleans and signaled a new era not just in college basketball, but in the Duke-North Carolina rivalry.

Hubert Davis has now coached in a national title game in just his first year and brings back a lot of players from that run to the title game. Down the road in Durham, Jon Scheyer is bringing in what could be Duke’s most complete class ever in his first season. Although there are some new faces on Tobacco Road, Duke and UNC will stay among the elite in college basketball.

Tar Heels’ Expectations Next Season

North Carolina’s side of the rivalry next season is a little easier to break down. The Tar Heels are going to bring back much of their core from the NCAA Tournament run this past season. While Hubert Davis might not be as transfer-heavy as some would expect, the returning players he brings back should be more than enough.

For starters, the backcourt that UNC has should be more consistent. R.J. Davis and Caleb Love had their moments last year but really figured out once the calendar turned to March. Davis could potentially be one of the best point guards in the country next season. His shooting splits were much better in the latter part of the season as he started to utilize his quickness as the Heels’ primary ball handler. His best came of course came in the second round where Davis’ 30 points helped UNC advance to the Sweet 16.

Love, Davis’ backcourt partner, really came into his own in the tournament and displayed some of the talent that many people knew he had. With Caleb Love, the main focus for him coming into next season isn’t any particular basketball trait. It’s simply, will he have the confidence he had in the tournament.

While the Tar Heels’ defense wasn’t spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, Leaky Black returning is a huge help. Black’s 22.4 DBPR was second on the team only behind Armando Bacot ( Seth Trimble will also be a solid addition to the Heels next year. The freshman point guard will be used in a backup role and gives UNC another ball handler.

In the frontcourt, the loss of Brady Manek will hurt the Tar Heels tremendously. Manek should around 45% from three from the start of March on and also added a lot more at 6’10. Puff Johnson should step into a starting role and showed some great flashes in the title game. Freshman Jalen Washington had a rough summer last year but should help as a depth piece.

The biggest returner for the Tar Heels, however, is, of course, Armando Bacot. Bacot averaged 16 points and 13 rebounds a game last season and finished the season with 31 double-doubles. Bacot also brought it every night on the defensive end as he averaged 1.7 blocks per game. Bacot will be the early favorite for ACC Player of the Year next year and he arguably should have won it this year.

North Carolina does have one open roster sport with Kerwin Walton deciding to transfer. How these will use that spot is still to be determined, but expect the Tar Heels to look to replace Manek and assert themselves as a top-five team in the preseason.

Blue Devils’ Expectation Next Season

Somehow, despite being one of the best programs in the country over the last decade, Duke gets made fun of for always being the preseason champions. However, this is a false reality. Duke hasn’t been preseason number one since the 2017-18 season. On top of that, in the last three tournaments Duke has played in they’ve gone to two elite eights and a final four. This year, although they won’t be, there’s an argument for them to be preseason number one.

As always, Duke is replacing a lot. Paolo Banchero, A.J. Griffin, Mark Williams, Wendell Moore, and potentially Trevor Keels could all be gone for the Blue Devils. However, this is nothing new for Duke, even under a new regime. Jon Scheyer has already proven how good of a recruiter he is as he has locked up the number one recruiting class for not just 2022, but potentially 2023 as well. This class for Duke in year one for Scheyer could be the most complete one in a while.

Although Dariq Whitehead isn’t the number one freshman in the country coming into next year or the number one player in Duke’s class, he’ll probably be the one that grabs people’s attention in the Champions Classic against Kansas. Whitehead won’t primarily handle the ball for Duke as Jeremy Roach does return, but Whitehead’s scoring ability is probably the trait that’ll make him stand out early in the season. Plus with the steps that Jeremy Roach took at the end of last season, it’s going to be a lot easier for him to attack off the catch instead of having to create his own shot.

Not many people are going to know much about Dereck Lively or Kyle Filipowski coming into next season, but both of them have large shoes to fill and are going to have important roles. Lively is going to be tasked with replacing Mark Williams’ rim protection. Luckily for Duke, that’s exactly what his role will be. Lively is extremely athletic for a guy his size and at 7’1, he has the upside to be considered for national defensive awards.

Filipowksi, another frontcourt player for Duke next season, will have most of his impact on the offensive end. Filipowski is a great shooter that actually could play a Brady Manek-type role for Duke this season. At 6’11, Filipowksi is a great shooter and can put it on the floor and make plays as well. He’ll be big when it comes to opening up driving lanes for Whitehead and Roach.

Duke will also bring in freshmen Mark Mitchell and Jaden Schutt, as well as big man Ryan Young who transferred in from Northwestern. Regardless of a Trevor Keels’s decision, this Duke team should be competing for a national championship in Jon Scheyer’s first season.

Duke-North Carolina Future Outlook

Hubert Davis has already proved himself in year one and Jon Scheyer with the team he has will likely do the same. Scheyer already has five players committed for the 2023 class and Hubert Davis has already gotten commitments from two players in that class. The two legends in Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams may be done coaching, but neither of these programs is taking a dip. Williams and K both left their successors in great spots and it’s already showing.

The future of the best rivalry in college basketball is going to stay that way for a long time and it is certainly not going anywhere.