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This year has been a strange one in Durham. This team’s performance has given Duke fans plenty to debate about when it comes to the question about whether or not they are any good. If you think they are good you point out the teams they have beaten, their undefeated ACC road record and the fight they show when down double digits. If you think they aren’t very good then you point out their last game against UNC, their struggles at home and the fact that they routinely find themselves down double digits.
What did we learn from this past Duke/UNC game? Besides the fact that *Vegas was handing out free money by favoring Duke by 1.5, I don’t know if we really found out much.
*One of the rules I follow in life is not to bet on Duke/UNC. There is enough on the line that I don’t need to complicate things with a financial wager. I came close to breaking that rule on Saturday considering the absurdity of that line. I understand Duke beat UNC the first time and if I was seeding the NCAA tournament even today I would give them the #1 seed over UNC. Still that doesn’t take away that UNC is a better team than Duke, and for Duke to win many more things have to go right for them than UNC.
It’s not like we just found out that UNC has a lot of top-level talent. Any Duke/UNC fan knew that UNC has four projected 1st round lottery picks. It also wasn’t a surprise that Duke matched up poorly with UNC considering their weaknesses (front line play and defensive rebounding) were Carolina’s strengths. I guess it was a little unexpected that Marshall and Henson would hit so many outside shots considering both are terrible shooters. That was the difference between the game being a 5-10 point loss and the actual result of a blowout.
If you want to be positive as a Duke fan consider that this game will be forgotten. They will be replaying Austin Rivers shot a million more times, but nobody will really think about this random Duke/UNC game. It was a mismatch and those aren’t that appealing to watch on ESPN Classic. Also, it was kind of nice watching the Plumlees play decent basketball. Mason Plumlee specifically seemed to break out of the funk he has been since the Maryland game. He still did some Mason Plumlee like things (why go for a block you can’t get and leave your man to get the offensive rebound?) but still his energy and offensive game were an improvement over recent games. Finally, one positive thought is that this Duke team plays much better away from Cameron and they no longer have to play there this season. I did write that it has been a strange year – right?
If you want to be negative then you might look at Austin Rivers struggles at the free throw line, Coach K’s lack of trust in Andre Dawkins (11 minutes?) or basically every outside shooter being off in the same game. It was certainly a frustrating game to watch, but it doesn’t really change what we knew all along. The logical conclusion to come to after that game is that Duke isn’t that bad, but UNC could be that good. Maybe that is reason enough for Duke fans to be depressed after Saturday’s debacle.