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ACC Basketball Tournament - Semifinals

by Sharon Thorsland

It’s time for round two this season of college basketball’s best rivalry – 7th ranked North Carolina heads to Durham to take on #9 Duke. Besides bragging rights, there is plenty riding on this game – a win would give the Tar Heels (24-6, 16-3 ACC) the outright ACC regular season crown. The Blue Devils (24-6, 15-4) can clinch a share of the title with a win, and exact a little revenge for their loss to UNC earlier this season. The game tips off at 6:30 Saturday on WBT.

Both of these teams are playing good basketball right now. The Tar Heels have won five straight, while the Blue Devils are 8-1 since their loss to UNC. Sophomore big man Kyle Filipowski has recovered nicely from his court-storming “injury” at Wake Forest two weeks ago and continues to lead Duke in scoring (16.5ppg) and rebounds (8.1). Four other players average in double figures, including guard Jeremy Roach. The senior had 20 points in the loss at UNC and always seems to step up against the Tar Heels. Sophomore Tyrese Proctor could be the “X-factor” in this game, he was good defensively in the first meeting but managed just two points and no 3-pointers. That is a key stat – Duke is 9-2 this season when it makes at least 10 three-pointers, and 12-2 when Proctor hits multiple 3’s. Super freshman Jared McCain continues to impress, he’s averaging over 13 points and nearly five rebounds per game.

UNC will be looking for their senior leaders to set the tone in this game. RJ Davis continues to lead the ACC in scoring, and Armando Bacot had a huge night against the Blue Devils earlier this season, with 25 points and 10 rebounds. That prompted him to say after the game that “the ACC runs through me.” No doubt that will have Filipowski fired up for this one.

This has the makings of a classic, and this rivalry rarely disappoints. The Tar Heels would love nothing more than to ruin senior night for Roach and the Blue Devils and sweep the season series, not to mention keep the ACC title all to themselves instead of sharing with their rival. History is on their side – over the past 20 years, UNC is 8-0 versus Duke when the regular season ACC title is on the line. Here’s to making it 9-0. Go Tar Heels!