I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Matt Hamm, the lead editor for Fansided’s UNC Tar Holes site, to have a little discussion about tonight’s game between Duke and UNC. I gave Matt five questions to answer so you could get the inside scoop on UNC. I also answered five of Matt’s questions on the Blue Devils.
Please keep in mind that Matt’s opinions and views on the Tar Holes are his own. If you want to argue Matt’s answers or just send him trash about being a diehard Tar Hole fan, please do so by clicking here.
Big Duke Balls: After the 33 point loss on the road to Florida State, UNC has matured quite a bit. From what you have seen, what have they done to mature so much?
Keeping It Heel: Carolina stopped taking things for granted. Early in the season UNC walked around like they were supposed to blow every team out of the gym. To answer your question more directly, its been the teams focus and intensity. Far too often early in the year Carolina would fall asleep for large chunks of games after they solidified the lead. When the Heels started facing more legitimate contenders like Florida State, UNC was given a wake up call. Looking back, that 33 point blowout embarrassment is exactly what this North Carolina team needed
BDB: Heading into the game, what is UNC’s biggest strength? Biggest weakness?
KIH: Our biggest strength is our ability to control the pace of the game. Carolina is the best rebounding team in the nation and with Kendall Marshall as the best up ahead passer in all the land, UNC runs it’s up tempo style at will. The Heels have the most talented team in the nation (as confirmed by Coach K’s recent statements) and often our talent and athleticism is too much for the opponent. Our biggest weakness right now is our bench production. Since the injury to Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullocks inclusion in the starting lineup the bench has done next to nothing. Five star freshman James Michael McAdoo and PJ Hairston have to do more for Carolina against elite teams like Duke.
BDB: What does UNC have to do to beat Duke?
KIH: To beat Duke, UNC just has to control the tempo by dominating the boards and the rest will take care of itself. Duke is going to be undersized in every match up in this game. UNC must expose this by using it’s size in the post and on the perimeter by taking good shots. Carolina has a huge size and athleticism advantage in this game that should allow them to control the tempo. As long as UNC doesn’t fall in love with the jump shot and sticks to the formula, Duke is over matched in this one.
BDB: The last time UNC and Duke played, the Blue Devils beat UNC by 17 points. Do you have any concerns that this might happen again?
KIH: That was a different Duke team, is this is a much better, much more mature Carolina team. In short, no I have zero concerns Duke blows out UNC in this game. Carolina was the better team last season also but they are much better this time around. John Henson now has an offensive game, Harrison Barnes is more mature. Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston provide the three point shooting Carolina lacked last season. McAdoo provides the additional size off the bench the team didn’t have last season either. I expect a dog fight, as is usually the case in this rivalry. If anybody gets blown out though, it’s going to be Duke.
BDB: What are your final thoughts and your prediction of the game’s outcome?
KIH: My final thoughts are a Duke loss could kill their chances in the ACC this season. While a Carolina win could put them back in the drivers seat towards not only an ACC title but a #1 seed in the tourney. Winning this match up at home is critical but Duke will be hungry. If the Blue Devils get hot from outside and Carolina doesn’t match the effort with intensity. Duke could sneak one out although I don’t see it happening. Final outcome, it’s close at half and all the way until about the five minute mark. Harrison Barnes goes on a tear putting Carolina up ten with two minutes. UNC wins this one no matter how you slice it.
My answers to Matt’s questions are on page two!