Scott German: UNC. Duke. Must-see TV
Must-see TV, when both teams are unranked and in the middle of the Atlantic Coast Conference standings?
Absolutely. It may be even more of a must-see event.
While this year’s tilt is not as hyped as past years’, due mainly to the lackluster play by both teams, the game, as usual, has some interesting storylines leading up to tip-off in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Neither program is ranked in the nation’s Top 25, which will be the first meeting between Carolina-Duke as unranked opponents in over 50 years.
The first time as unranked teams in over 50 years. Let that sink in for a moment or two.
Hate them or love them, when the Tarheels and Blue Devils square off, indeed it is a blockbuster matchup, when rankings and records take a back seat.
UNC and Duke have been the icons of the NCAA’s Wall-Street of college basketball-blue chip programs chocked full of a history of blue-chip players.
Together the two schools have a combined 11 NCAA championships, six times for UNC and five for Duke.
A down year for both teams, for certain, but make no mistake, even without the Cameron Crazies, these two giants will get at it come 6 p.m. Saturday night.
I think this game might be more interesting to watch than if both teams were highly perched in their customary poll spots.
At this stage of the season, neither team appears to even be a dark horse for another NCAA championship trophy to add to their respective trophy cases.
Heck, neither team will likely even make the postseason party, barring a late-season uptick in their play.
So this game could turn out to be the most important game of the year for the players.
As fans watching the game on television, we will have the opportunity to hear the squeaking sneakers, the grunts, the moans, the profinity – yes, college players do occasionally say a bad word or two during the 40 minutes of action.
Now to the game itself: Carolina appears to be a deeper and a more balanced team, while Duke is a two-man show of Jalen Johnson and Matthew Hurt.
Carolina, while maybe more balanced, does not appear to have that one player they can depend on to score when needed.
UNC has only three players who routinely score in double digits.
Ball protection by North Carolina is mediocre at best – down right pitiful at worst.
Tar Heel coach Roy Williams looks as though he’s heading to a tennis match on the sidelines, and appears to just roll out the ball and let the boys play.
On the Duke sideline, no one these days seems to be comparing Mike Krzyzewski to John Wooden. Most of the time it appears Coach K might be just rolling out the basketballs as well.
Back to that 50-year run these two giants have had as ranked opponents. Color TV was first introduced to the consumer. Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, and C.D. Chesley presented the game to the ACC region.
So is this really a must-see TV spectacle? You better believe it is.
My prediction: UNC 92, Duke 90.
Story by Scott German