Duke basketball: Paolo Banchero tells UNC to bring it

Duke basketball forward Paolo Banchero (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Duke basketball forward Paolo Banchero (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Duke basketball freshman Paolo Banchero is seeking revenge.

The No. 1 seed Duke basketball team defeated the No. 4 seed Miami Hurricanes, 80-76, at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in Friday night’s first ACC Tournament semifinal matchup.

Following the game, ESPN’s Holly Rowe interviewed Blue Devil power forward Paolo Banchero on the court. With her last question to the 6-foot-10, 250-pound projected lottery pick, Rowe asked which opponent he would rather see in Saturday night’s championship bout: the No. 3 seed UNC Tar Heels or No. 7 seed Virginia Tech Hokies.

Paolo Banchero responded with a partial grin and without hesitation: “UNC.” The former five-star recruit from Seattle then immediately headed to the locker room to prepare for whichever squad the Blue Devils should face next for the trophy.

ESPN commentator Rece Davis and analyst Jay Bilas came back on the mic and noted how rare it is for a player to answer such a question quickly, honestly, and confidently.

Indeed, it is.

Duke basketball fans expecting nothing less

Yes, it seems Paolo Banchero is as eager as his Duke fanbase to hush the parade of Mike Krzyzewski detractors who have infected Twitter with their laughter and slander all week. That, of course, stemmed from the Blue Devils’ embarrassing 94-81 loss to the Tar Heels last Saturday evening in the final home game of the retiring legend’s 42-year career in Durham.

Now, although Banchero disappeared at times on the offensive end against Miami, the ACC Rookie of the Year finished with a strong double-double nonetheless: 18 points and 11 rebounds. Plus, his efficiency was top-notch. He shot 8-for-10 from the floor and 2-for-4 from the charity stripe. He also tallied four assists, one steal, one block, and zero turnovers.

Simply put, Paolo Banchero appears ready for a rematch and a chance to give Krzyzewski the last laugh in the rivalry (presuming the archenemies don’t meet in the NCAA Tournament).

At the time of this article’s publishing, the Tar Heels and Hokies were knotted up, 12-12, with 12 minutes remaining in the first half.

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