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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3) RJ Davis needs to put on his cape

The Tar Heels have been so much better this year because they've gotten contributions from the entire roster. Harrison Ingram, Cormac Ryan, and Jae'Lyn Withers have all been impact transfers. Freshman point guard Elliot Cadeau has keyed the team's recent run by really stepping up his offensive aggression. Seth Trimble has raised his game. With all that being said, this is RJ Davis' team, and the Heels will go as far as he takes them.

No one player is going to decide this game, but as the saying goes, big-time players make big-time plays. RJ Davis has been doing that all year, and if the season ended today, he would no doubt be a First-Team All-American. These are the games that get remembered, though, and nobody knows that better than him.

Davis has stepped up against Duke before. Despite being overshadowed by backcourt mate Caleb Love's heroics in the Final Four, it was Davis that quietly kept the Heels in the game with a plethora of tough mid-range jumpers. In Coach K's final home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium a few weeks earlier, Davis' coolness under pressure carried the Heels through one of the most pressurized environments anyone has ever faced, and his 21 points helped overcome Love's rough 4-17 shooting day.

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Davis has been Carolina's steadiest player for three years now, but this season he's ascended to a higher level. Scoring 20 points is just another day at the office; now it's a surprise when he doesn't threaten 30. This is his final home game against Duke, and the Heels need everything he's got.