Saturday, February 2, 2008

Comparing scores of ACC games no way to choose favorite in Duke vs. UNC

If you compare the scores of ACC games, Duke would seem to have an edge going into Wednesday’s rivalry game at North Carolina.

Duke (19-1, 7-0 ACC) doesn’t have a conference loss. It hasn’t even been close to losing in the ACC. The Blue Devils have won each of their ACC games by at least nine points and have an average winning margin of almost 16 points against conference opponents.

“We’re definitely playing good basketball now,” said Duke freshman forward Kyle Singler.

North Carolina (20-1, 5-1 heading into Sunday’s game at Florida State) has an average scoring margin of 11.7 points in ACC games. The Tar Heels lost at home to Maryland, needed an overtime buzzer beater to edge Clemson and won by a point at Georgia Tech.

But comparing scores isn’t a good way to analyze basketball games. Looking at the matchups is more important, and they seem to favor North Carolina.

Duke doesn’t have a big-bodied player who can muscle up to Tyler Hansbrough, the ACC’s leading scorer and rebounder, in the post. The Blue Devils are a better defensive team than North Carolina and score a lot of points off turnovers, but playing a fast-breaking style against speedy Tar Heels point guard Ty Lawson is dangerous.

North Carolina wing Marcus Ginyard is capable of shutting down Duke’s DeMarcus Nelson, and sweet-shooting guards Wayne Ellington of North Carolina and Greg Paulus of Duke could neutralize each other.

That leaves one position where Duke needs to capitalize on its advantage. North Carolina forward Deon Thompson won’t easily guard versatile freshman Kyle Singler around the 3-point arc. A big game by Singler might be the Blue Devils’ best chance of winning.

But counting on a freshman forward to hit 3-pointers in front of a crowd that’s sure to be wild will be a dangerous way for Duke to live Wednesday night.

- Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

WOW!!!! How wrong he was!!!!