Do you bleed Carolina Blue or Royal Blue? Do you prefer the Dean Dome or Coach K court? Every year we can debate who will rule the ACC and this year is no different. Both Duke and UNC boast talented teams that aim to make a serious run to cutting down the nets in Indianapolis at the Final Four. As much as the success is similar, the formula to reach that success is very different.
Duke Philosophy- They will never wow you athletically but Coach K will always get more out of his talent than any other coach in America. I liken Duke to a Ivy League school on steroids. The Blue Devis will run numerous sets with the goal of setting up an open shot on the perimeter or a layup or dunk for the big men. The mid-range game is not as much as a staple of the offense. Duke is less reliant on dribble penetration as their off the ball screen game is executed brilliantly.
UNC Philosophy- Whereas Duke is all about execution, Roy Williams system is predicated on run, run, run. This is not to say Coach Williams isn’t a great X’s and O’s coach but he wants to outrun and outgun you. You can never relax without having the ball forced up the court at breakneck speed. What is special about UNC’s system is that as fast as they play it is never out of control. When the pace is slowed down, UNC likes to play inside out and is much less reliant on the 3 point shot. It truly is the bonus ball for the Tar Heels as they are nearly unbeatable if that shot is going down.
Let’s compare the teams starting 5 and see who wins out:
PG: Advantage UNC
Duke- Seth Curry…Stephen’s little brother is a knock down shooter and learning on the go as a point guard. Probably the weak link on the starting unit, not due to his talent level but moreso due to the role he is being forced to play.
UNC- Kendall Marshall…Taylor made for Roy Williams system. He doesn’t have the footspeed of Ty Lawson or Raymond Felton but his court vision and passing ability is unmatched in College basketball.
SG: Advantage DUKE
Duke- Austin Rivers…Dynamic athelte with great quickness and a developing jump shot. He’s the one guy on the Blue Devils that can get his own shot when he wants. He is probably the key to how serious a run this Duke team can make.
UNC- Dexter Strickland…Defensive stopper. Strickland is an elite athlete but is still trying to learn when to go and when to slow down. Not a great shooter and takes shots that don’t make a lot of sense. Great defender that will have to slow down other teams best scorer.
SF- Advantage UNC
Duke- Andre Dawkins…Knock down jump shooter. Dawkins is an elite shooter but still needs to work on his quickness and ability to attack the basket. Decent defender.
UNC- Harrison Barnes…All-American. Maybe not the player everyone thought coming out of high school but highly skilled. Emerging post game to go along with a solid jump shot. Takes and makes big shots. Still needs to work on becoming a lockdown defender.
PF- Advantage UNC
Duke- Ryan Kelly…Not a great athlete but a good shooter and hard nosed defensive player. Needs to really emerge to help replace the play of Kyle Singler. Would be good if he could find a little mean streak.
UNC- John Henson…Elite Defender. Having a 7’5″ wingspan sure does help. He could hold all the shot blocking records if he stays in school long enough. Still emerging offensive game but has started to develop a turnaround jumper that would be tough to defend.
C- Advantage UNC
Duke- Mason Plumlee…Solid Post player. He is starting to put it all together. He has all the tools to be a solid college center. Great athlete with the ability to finish with contact. Good defender and rebounder but needs to stay out of foul trouble.
UNC- Tyler Zeller…Best running big man in College basketball. Makes it easy for Kendall Marshall by running the court and getting deep in the paint. Deft touch on the jump hook. Playing much better defensively and is known for taking charge after charge in the paint.
There you go…Starting 5 comparison for 2 of the top 10 teams in America. Who do I think is better? I am going with the experience and athleticism of the Tar Heels. They have been there and are hungry and there are just too many weapons for the Blue Devils to handle. I look forward to both matchups as they are sure to add another classic or two to the record books.
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