For UNC Basketball, this season has been a return to glory. The Tar Heels have looked like the juggernauts of old, rolling to a 17-4 record that has seen them climb to #3 in the AP poll. Carolina has been the class of the ACC, and until this past Tuesday Hubert Davis' boys were undefeated in conference play.
None of that matter when Duke makes the eight-mile drive down 15-501. The Blue Devils are enjoying a stellar season themselves, having won 11 of 12 games to climb all the way to #7 in the rankings, and following Carolina's loss to Georgia Tech, they sit just a game back in the loss column from the first-place Heels.
College Gameday will be setting up shop in Chapel Hill, and the eyes of the college basketball world will once again be on two of the sport's greatest programs. With control of the ACC and a possible 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament at stake, what does Carolina need to do to come away with their biggest win of the season?
1) Keep the Blue Devils in check from the three-point line
Carolina has had one of the nation's best perimeter defenses this season, holding opponents to under 30% shooting from three. Duke is one of the country's best three-point shooting teams, making nearly 39% of their attempts. Something's gotta give.
UNC's defense has thrived thanks to a switch-heavy scheme that rarely lets shooters get wide-open looks, but against Georgia Tech, they had some uncharacteristic lapses. As a result, the Yellow Jackets shot 45% from three, and it made all the difference as the Heels lost by one at McCamish Pavilion.
With six players shooting over 37% from outside and four shooting over 40%, there's no easy way to guard Duke. Mark Mitchell is the only Blue Devil that gets significant playing time that isn't a deep threat, which means the Heels will have to work extra hard to prevent open looks from all over the floor.
If there's one player to key on, it's Jeremy Roach. The senior point guard is ultra-efficient, shooting over 47% from three, 86% from the foul line, and perhaps most impressively, sporting an assist-to-turnover ratio that's better than 3:1.
Look for Carolina's best backcourt defender, Seth Trimble, to see a lot of minutes in this one, as he tries to keep Roach from breaking down the UNC defense. Additionally, Armando Bacot and Jalen Washington will have to handle Kyle Filipowski one-on-one in the post, because Duke will make the Heels pay if they leave open shooters to double-team the seven-foot sophomore.