Hello, Carolina fans.
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Now allow me to reiterate what was already expressed in the headline: The North Carolina Tar Heels will not beat the Duke Blue Devils on Wednesday in Durham.
The basic laws of probability being what they are, I probably shouldn't state that with 100-percent certainty. There's always a TCU-Kansas game lurking in the proverbial weeds, just waiting to make us look like a drooling pack of idiots.
That said, Duke is an awful matchup for Carolina. Just an awful, awful no good matchup. And it's a matchup Roy Williams' team won't win.
Let's talk numbers.
This year's Duke squad does two things exceptionally well on offense: launch threes and take care of the ball. The Blue Devils shoot the fifth-best three-point percentage in the country and have the fifth-lowest turnover percentage.
North Carolina, meanwhile, ranks 236th nationally in defending the three-point line and 141st overall in forcing turnovers. Just ask Miami. The Hurricanes didn't shoot 26 three-pointers in their recent victory over the 'Heels by accident. Nor was it a coincidence that Miami made 15 of those shots.
Duke will get a slew of shots in this game, many of them makeable three-pointers.
North Carolina, meanwhile, has struggled on offense this year relative to season's past. The Tar Heels rank 55th overall in adjusted offensive efficiency, their second-worst mark in the Roy Williams era.
Those offensive woes stem from Carolina's inability to draw fouls. The Tar Heels are a miserable 335th nationally in free throws attempts as a percentage of field-goal attempts. Reggie Bullock and Marcus Paige in particular have been non-factors at the charity stripe.
Paige, a penetrating point guard, has attempted only 25 free throws in 610 minutes of game action. Only two qualifying ACC players get to the line at a worse rate
Duke, meanwhile, has been among the nation's best at keeping foes off the line. The Blue Devils rank 36th nationally in free-throw attempts allowed as a percentage of field-goal attempts.
That means Carolina will need to hit shots—and lots of them—to keep pace with Duke's high-powered attack.
Then there's Duke's record at home this year, a perfect 12-0. Only one team, Ohio State, has come within 13 points of the Blue Devils at Cameron. And North Carolina is no Ohio State, at least not this year.
If we wanted to hedge our bets, we could invoke all sorts of "rivalry magic" hokum.
Maybe the Ghosts of Tobacco Road will descend from their heavenly hardwood and transform North Carolina into a team that matches up well with Duke. Maybe a Tar Heel team that has three road losses of 18 or more will find itself cleansed of fear after a rousing pregame speech from some saintly former great. Maybe Michael Jordan is serious about playing ball again.
But I'm not a fabulist or a medicine man. I don't deal in the realm of spirits.
I look at numbers and I look at video.
Those two things tell me the Tar Heels are in for a hurting.
Note: All stats courtesy of KenPom.com
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