No. 5 North Carolina will play host to the No. 10 Blue Devils tonight in the first meeting between the teams this season. Tipoff is at 9 p.m.
Duke is coming off a home loss to Reggie Johnson and Miami, but has not lost consecutive games since 2009. The Tar Heels struggled to get past Maryland over the weekend, but the interior tandem of John Henson and Tyler Zeller are playing as well as any frontcourt in the nation. Click here for a full preview.
Duke (19-4): G Quinn Cook, G Seth Curry, G Austin Rivers, F Ryan Kelly, F Mason Plumlee.
North Carolina (20-3): G Kendall Marshall, G Reggie Bullock, F Harrison Barnes, F John Henson, F Tyler Zeller.
1. Can Duke handle the Tar Heels’ height?
North Carolina is the nation’s tallest team by Ken Pomeroy’s overall average height statistic, which is measured by weighting each player’s listed height by the number of minutes he plays. The Blue Devils rank 36th, and nowhere is this discrepancy more evident than on the wing. Six-foot-8 Harrison Barnes will have a four-inch advantage over Austin Rivers, and Duke’s big men will need to work hard to help out.
2. Can the Plumlees keep Zeller and Henson off the glass?
The North Carolina big men have combined for 112 rebounds over their last five games. While Mason Plumlee has 54 boards by himself over that span, his older brother has just 22 and Kelly has 28. Without a second rebounder, the Blue Devils will be hard pressed to take down the Tar Heels.
3. Live by the three, win by the three?
North Carolina’s weakness thus far has been from long range, where they shoot just 35.8 percent. The team scores under 19 percent of its points from beyond the arc, one of the lowest marks in the nation. Duke shot a woeful 9-for-31 from downtown Sunday against Miami, but might be able to overcome the Tar Heels’ efficient offense by knocking down some 3-pointers.