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Sunday, March 4, 2001
Second Time Down Tobacco Road

Shane Battier
Battier is ready to resume a fierce battle.
How's the ESPN promo go? "Separated by eight miles of pine trees and a couple of shades of blue ..." Well, the wait is almost over for Duke-UNC: The Sequel. Plenty has changed since the Tar Heels upset the Blue Devils on Feb. 1. For one, both have lost to Virginia, which exposed each team's flaws. Duke has also lost Carlos Boozer to a broken foot, forcing Casey Sanders to step into the spotlight, writes's Andy Katz. And the Tar Heels are the favorites on their home floor. But one thing has remained the same: Sunday's game is still for the ACC championship.
  • Holding Court: What's available on the bench
  • Katz: Coach K Conversation | Musburger: Ready for rematch
  • No whine and cheese for this Chapel Hill crowd

    Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET; at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C. (ABC)

    Duke Blue Devils
    Record: 25-4; 12-3
    ESPN: No. 2; AP: No. 2
    North Carolina Tar Heels
    Record: 23-4; 13-2
    ESPN: No. 4; AP: No. 4
    Projected Starters

      Pos. Ht. Ppg Rpg Apg   Pos. Ht. Ppg Rpg Apg.
    Jason Williams G 6-2 20.7 3.2 6.3 Ronald Curry G 6-2 5.2 3.0 4.0
    Nate James G 6-6 13.6 5.1 1.2 Joseph Forte G 6-4 22.0 5.7 3.6
    Casey Sanders C 6-11 2.3 1.5 0.2 Brendan Haywood C 7-0 12.1 7.3 1.3
    Mike Dunleavy F 6-7 12.4 5.7 3.0 Kris Lang F 6-11 11.9 6.1 0.7
    Shane Battier F 6-8 19.4 6.5 1.8 Jason Capel F 6-8 11.1 7.1 3.1

    Friday, March 2
    What a super Sunday to end the regular season. If you are a college hoops fanatic, you can't get a better finish. In Chapel Hill, N.C., the Dean Dome will be rocking and rolling. Blue and white will be the colors of the moment. It will be absolute hysteria with the Dukies invading Sunday.

    For North Carolina to win, the Tar Heels have to pound the ball inside, utilizing their great size and strength to take advantage of Carlos Boozer's absence. Brendan Haywood, Kris Lang and Julius Peppers present matchup problems.

    The Blue Devils must apply pressure defensively, going after North Carolina full-court. The Blue Devils have to force turnovers and try to get scores in transition. Mike Krzyzewski needs quality minutes out of Casey Sanders and Matt Christensen on the defensive end inside. They also must hold their own on the boards.

    There is a lot at stake. Duke needs a win to get a co-championship in the ACC. A potential No. 1 seed in the East could be influenced by this contest. Remember, in eight of the last 10 years, one of these two schools has earned the top seed in the East in the Big Dance. Sunday's contest will be something special. I get goosebumps thinking about it and I can't wait. More ...
    Bilas Breakdown
    If this rivalry has taught us anything over the years, it is that the recognized favorite going into the game often comes out the loser.

    Remember the first matchup, when the oddsmakers ruled North Carolina a 13-point underdog, and everyone thought Duke's explosive scoring ability would trump the Tar Heels in Cameron? Sorry. It was not only a great game, it was a forewarning that Carolina would be a daunting threat to Duke's recent stranglehold on the ACC regular season title.

    On Sunday, Duke can rip off a piece of the ACC title banner, or Carolina can emphatically raise the entire flag in the Smith Center.

    This game is accompanied by an unbelievable amount of hype, but it delivers with the players. The three top candidates for ACC and National Player of the Year are suiting up, and this game can help determine who will carry home the trophy.

    Jason Williams is the best all-around point guard in the nation, although he has had some inconsistent outings over the last month. Shane Battier is the most complete player in the country at both ends, and impacts a game on the defensive end as much or more than on the offensive end. Joseph Forte is the best shooting guard in America, and has been arguably the most consistent performer in the ACC at the highest level.

    The battle for the honor is too close to call, and it's a great argument for fans and commentators. The same goes for Coach of the Year, as both Matt Doherty and Mike Krzyzewski will be candidates for the honor in the ACC and nationally.

    Heading into Duke-Carolina II, the Heels are the favorite, but Duke is very dangerous in its current role. Following the home loss to Maryland, Duke revealed the news that Carlos Boozer would be out for a time with a broken foot. As Krzyzewski delivered the news, the disappointment was clear on his face, as was the anger. I'm sure he was thinking that it's not supposed to end like this, that Battier and Nate James should be able to pursue a title at full strength, and that the Blue Devils' seeding in the NCAA Tournament shouldn't be up in the air with the Committee.

    But after the postgame disappointment, Krzyzewski will steel his and his team's resolve to perform at its highest level without Boozer, and Duke will enter the Smith Center on Sunday ready to play.

    What does Duke do without Boozer? The facile response is that Boozer only scored four points against Carolina in the first game, so Duke can play without him. Well, he may not have scored much, but Boozer guarded Brendan Haywood, and allowed Duke to have normal matchups throughout the game. Without Boozer, Duke has to adjust its matchups and its defensive schemes.

    Without Boozer, Chris Duhon will probably start, and certainly play more than 30 minutes. James, Michael Dunleavy and Battier will be guarding bigger people, making the Blue Devils become much more susceptible to fouls. Duke can, and probably will, press full-court to speed the game up in spots, and may have to play some match-up zone. The real problem will be on the defensive glass, where Boozer's big body will be missed badly. Without Boozer, Duke becomes quite thin, and can get worn out with Carolina's big bodies leaning on them.

    Look for Duke to spread the floor more and play with an open post, looking to drive more to the basket. Before losing Boozer, 40 percent of Duke's shots were 3-pointers, and over a third of Duke's points came off made 3s. The main bombers are Williams and Battier, who score nearly half of their points off of made 3s.

    What does Carolina do without Boozer in the game? Nothing too different, but the Heels will attack through Haywood and Kris Lang first, and force Duke to guard inside. North Carolina may have lost two of its last four games, but the Tar Heels are still a strong No. 1 seed, and the Tar Heels have played very well and very tough all season long.

    The Heels have been tough defensively all season, which has surprised some people. To me, however, the defining quality of this team is its defensive character. North Carolina guards people, and while the Heels do not contest passes in denial position, they force you into taking challenged jumpshots, and often limit you to only one crack at it. North Carolina finishes defensive exchanges by grabbing big defensive rebounds, even the guards. Forte, Jason Capel and Ronald Curry all go to the defensive glass, and their rebounding has been vital to Carolina's defense.

    On the offensive end, Carolina pounds the ball inside, and can wear you down physically and mentally trying to muscle their big men and contend with their secondary break and interior screens.

    Key Match-Up: Joseph Forte and Shane Battier

    Forte has arguably been more valuable to his team than any other player. He leads the ACC in scoring at over 23 points per game, and ranks among the league's top ten in eight different statistical categories. Forte is smooth, and almost glides up and down the floor. He is a great scorer, and is very determined to beat his man. He defends, ranking among the league's steals leaders, and he rebounds, ranking among the league's best defensive rebounding guards. When Forte rolls, so does Carolina. But, if Forte is limited, Carolina is vulnerable. In Carolina's four losses, Forte averaged 18 points on 35%-percent shooting, and took 21 shots per game to get those numbers.

    Battier has had another magnificent season, and has the entire package. He shoots the ball with incredible range, and is most dangerous in transition as a trail shooter. Battier scores most of his points off of 3s and free throws, but has proven he can put the ball on the floor as well. On the defensive end, Battier is the most alert and responsive defender I have ever seen. Battier is Duke's leader, and their chances going forward rest with him.

    Key Stats: Rebounding, 3-Point Shooting and Free Throws

    North Carolina is bigger inside, but the battle for rebounds may ultimately be determined by the guards. Because Duke shoots so many 3s, there will be a lot of long rebounds, and those rebounds are the equivalent of loose balls. North Carolina's guards did a great job of rebounding down to grab those long rebounds in Game 1, and need to repeat that in Game 2. Duke will have to hit their open threes to win, and must set up those threes with dribble penetration, spreading the floor, driving and kicking to open shooters spotting up. While Duke must hit shots, the Blue Devils cannot ignore attacking the basket. North Carolina must go inside to draw fouls, as well, and must hit their free throws.

    Keys To Winning: The X's and O's are important, but this game requires an unbelievable level of intensity and concentration. It is important not to let the hype and emotion wear you out mentally or physically. While Duke must enter the game with the belief it can and will win, Carolina's mindset is far more important. If the Heels have any lingering feeling in them that this game will not be as tough without Boozer involved, they can easily be upset. Duke is a dangerous team with or without Boozer, and will pursue a piece of the ACC regular season title. Carolina has to take the attitude of going after the title, not protecting it.

    -- Jay Bilas

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