Duke Basketball: Players Who Need to Perform to Beat UNC

Scott SemmlerAnalyst IIMarch 3, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15:  Ryan Kelly #34 of the Duke Blue Devils drives the ball against Austin Thornton #13 and Draymond Green #23 of the Michigan State Spartans during the 2011 State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Duke and North Carolina are at it again Saturday night in one of the greatest rivalry games known to man, and there are a set of Duke's top-tier college players that will need to be at their best if they want a repeat of what happened in the Dean Smith Center a few months ago.

Both team are competing heavily for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Winning tonight would give the team the best chance at claiming a top spot come tournament time.

In the last game between these two teams, it only took one player in the end to defeat the Tar Heels—Austin Rivers. This time, it will take a lot more as UNC is ready to steal one on the road against their most hated rival.

 

Austin Rivers

This one is obvious. His big-shot mentality is what has driven this team to the No. 3 ranking in college hoops, and he alone is a big reason for why Duke basketball has succeeded to this point this season.

He will need to be at the top of his game tonight against the Tar Heels, and if this game comes down to one shot, you can bet he will be there with the ball in his hands ready to make a play, putting his stamp on the Duke/UNC rivalry once again.

 

Ryan Kelly

When Ryan Kelly is hitting his shots, the Blue Devils are winning. It has become common knowledge over the past several months. Duke goes the way in which their stars are going, and it only helps when Kelly is on his game.

Kelly is averaging 12 points and five rebounds per game this season and is coming off a standout performance at Wake Forest earlier this week, with 23 points and eight rebounds.

Putting up anything close to those numbers tonight would pay huge dividends for Duke, as he had 15 points and four rebounds in the their last meeting with North Carolina.

 

Seth Curry

Curry is, more or less, a leader on this Duke team. His close competition with Rivers is what has made these two stand out in college hoops this season, but he will need just a little more than his usual average of 13 points per game to fuel the Blue Devils to a win on Saturday night.

In Duke's last meeting with North Carolina, Curry put up 15 points and four rebounds on the road at the Dean Smith Center.  

In three of Duke's four losses this season, Curry has been held under his average of 15 points per game, which shows just how important a piece he is to the Blue Devils' success.