The Duke basketball team and North Carolina Tar Heels will battle for the first time on the 100th year anniversary of the historic rivalry.
Saturday evening will mark the 100th year in which the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels get together on the basketball court, but the game is missing an extra layer of anticipation.
It’s a significantly down year for the Tar Heels who will miss the NCAA Tournament in all likelihood and could be looking at a losing season for the first time in the head coaching career of Roy Williams.
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The build-up to the game feels very similar to the last time the Blue Devils were in the Dean Smith Center as Duke did not have Zion Williamson as he was recovering from a knee injury.
North Carolina has experienced injuries all season long, as Brandon Robinson will not play on Saturday due to an ankle injury, but the Heels will have the services of Cole Anthony who will be playing in his third game since returning from a knee ailment.
The Tar Heels have lost both games Anthony has played in since his return and Williams’ team continues to search for answers.
Beating Duke, however, would be a season defining win for North Carolina and the matchup between Tre Jones and Anthony could go a long way in deciding this one.
Mike Krzyzewski will turn to his center and frontrunner for the ACC Player of the Year Award, Vernon Carey Jr., and either Javin DeLaurier, Jack White, or Matthew Hurt to try and slow the North Carolina big men.
A fast start for Duke will be key to try and take the raucous North Carolina crowd out of the game as the Blue Devils have struggled coming out of the gates for a majority of the season.
Despite the disparity in the records, this will be a close game throughout and Duke will not have a cakewalk to the finish line.
With that being said, Duke will be too much for North Carolina to handle for a full 40 minutes and will take control in the final minutes to have a comfortable lead when the final buzzer sounds.
Duke and North Carolina will tipoff at 6:00pm EST on ESPN while ESPN’s College GameDay will be live from the Dean Smith Center at 11:00am.
PREDICTION: Duke 79, North Carolina 66