Saturday night (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) was already going to be a massive game for the Duke basketball team but now it might hold more weight.
The No. 7 Blue Devils (16-4, 7-2 ACC) control its own destiny to winning the ACC regular season title and earning the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with a victory inside the Dean Dome.
No. 3 North Carolina (17-4, 9-1 ACC) suffered its first league loss of the season on Tuesday night against Georgia Tech, who has ironically played its best this season against the Tobacco Road rivals, and has opened the door for the winner of the latest installment of the rivalry to have the inside track at another title.
Duke, with a victory over the Tar Heels, would be 8-2 in the conference and hold the initial tiebreaker over Carolina with another matchup coming on the final day of the regular season.
Virginia, Florida State, and Wake Forest, all with three ACC losses, are still on the schedule for the Blue Devils and both the Cavaliers and Seminoles will make the trip to Durham while Duke will play a home-and-home with the Demon Deacons.
It clearly is a major ask for Jon Scheyer's team, and there is still a lot of basketball left to be played, but if Duke wins the remaining games it has in the regular season, the Blue Devils will be the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament.
In turn, a North Carolina victory over the Blue Devils would put the Tar Heels two games ahead in the loss column from its competition.