Ranking as a Top ACC Team, Can Jon Scheyer’s Duke Outfox Their Contender North Carolina?

Published 12/07/2023, 10:23 AM EST

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The North Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils are going strong this season. They are possibly the best teams in the Atlantic Coast and hence fans are eagerly waiting for a matchup between the two.

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The much-anticipated clash will surely be a nail-biter with the fans at the edge of their seats. But before it actually happens, let us have an insight into who would win the marquee contest on a neutral court.

Why would the Duke lose?

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The North Carolina have a 7-2 tally whereas the Duke Blue Devils have a score of 5-3. The Tar Heels have lost their games against the Villanova Wildcats and the University of Connecticut Huskies. Whereas the Duke have been decimated by the Arizona Wildcats, the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Let us also assume that the Blue Devils guard Tyrese Proctor is healthy for the hypothetical match, even then critics would choose the North Carolina over the Duke. The Duke are a formidable team and looks very good on paper, albeit they have four five-star recruits namely – Caleb Foster, Sean Stewart, Jared McCain, and TJ Power. Hence, at one point of time it looked as if the Duke would make an unforgettable impact in the NCAA 2023-24 tournament.

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But things don’t look as good for them having lost three crucial tie-ups and this is particularly because their head coach Jon Scheyer has to fill in a tough position of their legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski who has retired. The transition hasn’t been completed yet as Scheyer has yet to get the hang of the head coach.

He has a lot of young guys like Foster and McCain. Even their center Kyle Filipowski is a sophomore and most of the guys in the Duke and the North Carolina don’t seem to go past their sophomore years.

A look at some of the other teams like the Clemson Tigers clearly indicates that the players there have played with each other for quite sometime and are not as new to the college basketball as the Dukes. Though their guard Joseph Girard III is new, their center PJ Hall has plied his trade for four years, the forward Ian Schieffelin is a junior. Another of their guard Chase Hunter is a senior.

The North Carolina is similar to Duke in this regard that they also have a lot of new players. The North Carolina still might win the match up against the Duke because currently they are going better in the NCAA tournament. Though they lost their last game against the Huskies, the Tar Heels gave their cent percent effort. They lack in defense as of now.

How is the North Carolina better?

Moreover only relying on players who are too young is a folly because the NIL introduction now lets the basketball stars stick to their college teams for a longer time before declaring themselves for the NBA draft.

Now stars can make the money they were making in the G League or exhibit 10 deals while continuing in college basketball. Hence, participating only with fresh guns might not get the desired results.

The Duke also seem to be missing their center Derek Lively II from last year who took the initiative for the greater part of their defense. They surely are lacking in that athleticism and size which also gave Filipowski a chance to guard outside the perimeter while Lively took care of the main big man of the other team.

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Comparing between the two, the Carolina are an older team. Their forward Harrison Ingram has helped with outside shooting.  He has a 62.2% free throw percentage and a 48.5% field goal percentage. Their guard Cormac Ryan is in senior year. Although he hasn’t been as effective as fans would like him to be still he is a force to reckon with and would gain much confidence going into the season.

Another of their senior RJ Davis averages a whopping 21 points this season, whereas their freshman Elliot Cadeau is a five-star recruit who can prove his mettle on any given day.

Their forward Armando Bacot is more team-focused this year and is one of the best rim runners this season. If the Tar Heels notch up their defense, they can beat any team in the tournament.

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Irrespective of whoever dominates the game, both teams are on track to having an unforgettable season this year. As the tournament advances, it will be clearer if any of the two will make it to the knockouts.

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Written by:

Ritvan Pande

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Edited by:

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