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This game features two programs that are bitter rivals but have an equal amount of respect for each other. It will be their 3rd meeting of the year with each winning on the other’s home floor. Duke has been the better team for most of the year, but the Tar Heels have come on strong and are playing at a high level as well. Just sit back and enjoy what could be a highly entertaining battle. Let’s look at some stats:
When looking at the stats, there is a slight advantage for Duke, but it isn’t a significant one. Both teams are red-hot and are playing their best basketball at the right time. Both of these programs expect to be in this position every year and are disappointed if they aren’t. Neither team will be awed by the situation.
When looking at how they got to the Final Four, I think it can be agreed that the Blue Devils had the biggest test in the Elite 8 to get to this spot.
Round 1: North Carolina 95 Marquette 63 Duke 78 CSU-Fullerton 61 Advantage: North Carolina
Round 2: North Carolina 93 Baylor 86 OT Duke 85 Michigan State 76 Advantage: Neither
Round 3: North Carolina 73 UCLA 66 Duke 78 Texas Tech 73 Advantage: Neither
Round 4: North Carolina 69 St.Peter’s 49 Duke 78 Arkansas 69 Advantage: Duke
The game will come down to how well each team defends the other’s potent offense. Duke has put up at least 78 points on 3 very good defensive, teams without much problem. Can the Tar Heels slow them down and hold them to the low 70’s? Carolina can score almost as well as Duke and they will be able to keep up with the Blue Devils. Whichever team wins the defensive battle will advance to Monday night.
The other topic will be the Coach K factor. Everyone on the planet knows, that this is the legendary coach’s last game. Will that have any effect on his team? Will they use that as extra motivation, or will it be a negative thing where psychologically, it is in the back of their minds, causing added pressure? That is an issue that will be dealt with by Coach K and I think he will know how to handle that.
I’m going to lean towards the team that has been consistent all year long and that is Duke. Can North Carolina win? The answer is obviously yes, but I think Duke is as talented as anyone and they are playing like it at the right time. PAPA DUDES PICK: Duke -4
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