Hank Tucker: Saturday’s loss doesn’t really affect my thoughts on Duke’s chances of beating any of the national title contenders in March, but the result will hurt the Blue Devils’ case for a No.
Duke didn’t care nearly as much as St. John’s did, and it paid the price, but I doubt the Blue Devils will have as much trouble getting energized for games like the matchup with North Carolina Thursday night or any postseason contests in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
Both have had their moments of glory in the rivalry—Allen with his clutch shooting to seal the Blue Devils’ victory in Durham last year and Berry with his 28 points to return the favor in Chapel Hill—but both players have been cold from the outside for most of their senior seasons.
Marvin Bagley III has struggled at times on defense against bigger post players like Wake Forest’s Doral Moore, and the Tar Heels’ lone towering big could take advantage.
I don’t doubt that it’ll be a raucous environment Thursday night in Chapel Hill, but if Duke can jump out in front early, the Blue Devils have a chance to take the crowd out of the game.
Sure, that means Duke will have to guard the Tar Heels in some unfamiliar situations too, but North Carolina just isn’t quite consistent enough from long distance to make the Blue Devils pay the price, in all likelihood.
The Blue Devils will romp the Tar Heels in March, but they just haven’t been good enough in true road games to convince me that they’ll be able to come away with a win Thursday.
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