Busting Brackets

UNC Basketball: 3 keys to a Tar Heels victory vs. Duke in top-10 matchup

The greatest rivalry in sports will resume on Saturday, with Carolina and Duke both sitting in the top seven of the AP poll. What does UNC have to do to keep the Blue Devils at arm's length in the ACC standings?

North Carolina v Duke
North Carolina v Duke / Grant Halverson/GettyImages
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2) Win the battle between Armando Bacot and Kyle Filipowski

Speaking of the battle of the bigs, the clash between Bacot and Filipowski could be the most important factor in determining the winner of this game.

Bacot has stood out defensively this year, but lately he's become passive on the offensive end, often feeling like the fourth or fifth option when he's on the floor. In the Heels' last three games, Bacot has scored 9, 5, and 5 points, but Carolina needs more than that from him on Saturday.

To begin with, Bacot needs to make Filipowski work on the defensive end. Duke's center has been susceptible to foul trouble, with four or more fouls in his last three games. At home against Clemson last week, Filipowski fouled out of his matchup with PJ Hall with only nine points and four rebounds, and he was visibly frustrated on the bench as he watched the game be decided without him.

Duke has been great at limiting opponents' second chances this year, but Bacot is one of the college game's great rebounders. He grabbed 21 boards, including eight on the offensive end, to help send Duke packing in the Final Four two years ago, and even in defeat, he reached double digits in both games last year. If he can outmuscle Filipowski and his 9.4 rebounds per game, or better yet, get him sent to the bench with foul trouble, the court could become wide open for the Heels.

Duke won both matchups against Carolina last year, but both games were tight, and Filipowski had help around the rim with the presence of Dereck Lively II. Lively is gone, and the Heels are much-improved from the team that missed the NCAA Tournament last year. Can Bacot do enough to turn the tables?