#3 UNC vs #2 Duke

Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Wednesday, February 6th, 9:00 PM
TV: ESPN or Raycom/LF
Records: UNC 21-1, 6-1 ACC; Duke 19-1, 7-0 ACC

Here we go!

There are any number of storylines being hyped for a game that is huge with any other storylines attched to it. You have the top five angle, the return of Dick Vitale, ACC and NCAA implications, first game since The Foul and now the injury to Ty Lawson. So it is chock full of various angles you can look at this game from but for me it boils down to just a handful of questions.

1. Will Ty Lawson play?

I think he won’t but they will not decide until game time if he will or not.. All reports from Chapel Hill during the day indicated that Lawson did not have a high ankle sprain which is tougher to recover from but just your plain vanilla ankle sprain. Lawson also did not do much at practice besides shoot but we was able to put weight on it, however he was also on crutches Tuesday morning. I know he will receive top flight treatment to get his ankle ready for play but if I had to guess right now I would say he does not play.

2. What does losing Lawson mean?

It means Quentin Thomas will get the bulk of the minutes. And make no mistake, this is the only option simply because Roy is not going to shift anyone else around, besides Marcus Ginyard, to run point. Thomas has played fairly well over the past few games and did a decent enough job to help UNC survive FSU. The offense in that game did not seem to run as smoothly but I tend to owe some of that to the fact losing Lawson was dropped on the team four minutes in and they simply never got on track. Having had two days of practice and sort of knowing that this would be the case, hopefully the offense functions a little better starting out the game with Thomas running the show.

3. How much does it hurt UNC against Duke?

I would say it takes a position that was an advantage for UNC head-to-head and move it into the push column at best or maybe give some advantage to Duke. QT will face a very tough pressure defense and has not historically excelled against that kind of duress. The danger is if the pressure overwhelms QT then it jeopardizes the offensive flow and the ability to get the ball into the hands of players who can hurt the Devils. UNC should own the interior and play even on the wings though they give up something there with the way Duke spreads the floor, drives for kickouts and hits threes. The PG play could be the lynch pin for the whole game but only if Thomas plays badly.

4. So UNC is royally screwed right?

Absolutely not.  I think QT will have a huge game if Lawson cannot go.  As I said previously, I also think it sells the rest of these guys short to think that Hansbrough and Co. is not going to step up their level of play to compensate for what they might be missing from an absent Ty Lawson.  Remember, Hansbrough, Green, Ginyard and Thomas were on the team that went into Cameron in 2006 and knocked off #1 Duke on the Devils’ senior night honoring two of their most prominent players Shelden Williams and JJ Redick.  By all rights, Duke should have blown UNC’s doors off that night but unfazed by the Crazies the Heels took care of business.  I expect nothing less tonight.

5. So who wins?

I think UNC finds a way.  It will be a tough game and granted there is plenty of things to worry about if Lawson does not play but it will really come down to which team can use their strength most effectively.  Personally I think the Tar Heel inside game can be more reliable that the Blue Devils outside shooting based on the shooting percentages alone.  The two keys to this game are defensive in nature.  Can Duke pressure QT and the rest of the Heels into an egregious number of turnovers and can UNC stop Duke from penetrating to the rim?  Whatever happens in respect to those two questions probably decides the game.  At any rate, it will be as it always has been and that is one of the best games of the season.

UNC 82 Duke 70

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14 Responses to #3 UNC vs #2 Duke

  1. C. Michael says:

    If Q approaches the 9 PT/6 A/2TO game he had on Sunday, UNC will be in good shape. One other advantage UNC should have is a raucous crowd. Given the way the last game ended, I expect this to be an atmosphere the likes of which the DES Center rarely, if ever, sees.

  2. Displaced Heel says:

    Remember that QT has had GREAT games against dook, and I expect this one to be no different.

  3. Tarheel says:

    Like many great UNC players, I’m sure Ty will play. It is all a big mental game from Ol’ Roy.

  4. Josh Bowling says:

    When you say Ty, you mean Tyler, don’t you?

  5. Wadsworth says:

    I also think (hope) that Lawson will play. Williams normally is pretty straightforward when someone is injured and will sit the bench. In this case, he has simply said that it does not look good. I will be looking for 10-15 minutes from Lawson off the bench. As soon as we get to the 14 mark when the initial excitement starts to wear off a bit, I see Lawson coming in and the whole place going bezerk.

  6. […] Glenn has three keys for tonight, none of which are scoring more points than Dook. Tar Heel Fan has tons and thinks we will win by 12. IC says the tables have turned. Enough links for me…though […]

  7. Chris says:

    The wise thing to do would be to keep Lawson on the bench and let his ankle heal completely. We don’t need 10 minutes of mediocre play and a reinjury. I’d like him to be around for the game at Cameron, and the ACC tournament game with Duke. The spread is Duke by 4. If both teams play as they’ve played so far this season, that sounds about right to me. Hopefully Carolina can find some intensity, make a steal once in a while, and Q has no turnovers.

  8. MDtarheelfan says:

    I expect Dook will let Q drive and force him to shoot or make difficult passes. I know they will come with their moving picks and their flops. Q has had problems with tight ball pressure but I think he will step up and have a nice enough game and not be a negative factor. Its up to the rest of the team to step up and relieve some of that pressure off Q. I do worry about Dooks ability to fake the outside shot and drive to the hoop. That has hurt us in the past. I think we will win but by no more than 5. I hate these late night games, I can’t scream as loud with everyone else sleeping. GO HEELS!

  9. 52BigGameJames says:

    wow Chris–you & I agree on something. After viewing the injury, I don’t see him playing. Q is a great kid, so I’m really pulling for him tonight to have a solid game! A great opportunity for the “supporting cast” to rise and shine.

  10. rlb says:

    i dont believe lawson will play because of the bigger picture. but with the situation you want a senior to be able to step in and that what we have with thomas. i really believe the game will come down to green/ginyard/ellington and how effective they are on offense and defense. i think dook freshmen will have a hard time with it being their first time in dean dome as well as g henderson with pressure from the crowd. the last time duke played on such a big stage they lost (msg vs pitt). nelson and greg p will have big games but i think the inside force of unc and rebounding will put the dookies in foul trouble. unless dook shoots 50% from 3 all night unc will wear them down in the paint.

  11. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I read Seth Davis at SI.com and he says UNC needs to stop the Duke threes. I say that is wrong. Duke shoots 38% from three, averages close to nine makes out of 23 attempts. Against Miami they were 12-30 but made 26-40 FTs and scored the remaining 26 points on two point baskets. I say let them have the threes and do your best to limit their access to the rim on penetration(i.e. Nelson driving the baseline or lane for dunks/layups) and also do you best not to foul them on drives to the basket so they do not get 40 trips to the line during the game. Even if they shoot 30 threes and hit 15 of them, that is 45 points. Limit the point production on FTs and two point baskets and you can win the game assuming the UNC offense can put up at least 80.

  12. Tar Heel alum and fan says:

    Q will be fine if the rest of the team steps up and helps him. I hope Lawson does not play if there is any chance at all for reinjury. He’ll be too important in March. Even if Lawson did play I would think the UNC gameplan is to pound down low. The Heels can still do that very effectively. I agree on defense it’s better to give up questionable threes than let them drive and create foul problems for our big men. This one will be close.

  13. Josh Bowling says:

    This will be as close as the 2000 presidential election!

  14. TxTarheel says:

    Take care of the boards on both ends; Tyler, Thompson & Stepheson should get extra looks close-in for some follow-up points. UNC has to get to the FT line more than Duke, who will likely settle for open looks & let it rip.

    My humblest opinion is controlling turnovers & the defensive glass will both give UNC the edge. I’m expecting Duke to press full-court, or at least show it

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