Busting Brackets

UNC Basketball: 3 keys to victory over Duke in ACC regular season finale

The Tar Heels travel to Durham to take on the Blue Devils with the ACC regular season title on the line. What does UNC need to do to sweep the season series?

Carolina will be all smiles on Saturday if Elliot Cadeau and Harrison Ingram play their best
Carolina will be all smiles on Saturday if Elliot Cadeau and Harrison Ingram play their best / Grant Halverson/GettyImages
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2) Defend the three-point line

Carolina has won on the strength of its defense this year. KenPom has the Heels ranked sixth nationally in defensive efficiency, and they've been especially good at defending the perimeter. Opponents have shot just 31% from outside against UNC this season, but on the rare occasion that the Tar Heels have lapsed, they've lost.

All three of Carolina's conference losses have featured a barrage of threes from their opponents. Georgia Tech shot nearly 50% from deep while making nine threes in a one-point win over the Tar Heels in Atlanta. Clemson made 11 threes to win for just the second time ever in Chapel Hill, and Syracuse, who the Tar Heels beat by 36 the first time they played, turned the tables in the rematch, shooting over 47% from deep in an 86-79 win.

Duke is one of the top three-point shooting teams in the country. As a team, they shoot 38%, with senior Jeremy Roach and freshmen Jared McCain and Caleb Foster all over 40%. McCain and Roach each scored over 20 points while playing nearly the entire game the first time these two teams met, so the Carolina perimeter trio of RJ Davis, Elliot Cadeau, and Seth Trimble will need to shut them down.

Carolina looked much more locked in against Notre Dame than they did in their previous two games against N.C. State and Miami, both games which nearly got away as Carolina allowed a flurry of threes. The Irish were only 5-19 from three on Tuesday night, and shot just over 30% overall in the face of Carolina's noticeable defensive intensity.

There's a lot that will go into determining who wins this game, but the telltale sign will be how Duke fares from three.