Durham, NC (Sports Network) - One of the most storied rivalries in all of sports adds another chapter on Wednesday evening, as the second-ranked Duke Blue Devils square off with the North Carolina Tar Heels in Atlantic Coast Conference action from Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Some of the luster of this rivalry may be gone on the national scale, as Roy Williams' Tar Heels are in a bit of a rebuilding phase this season. North Carolina comes into this contest unranked with a 16-7 overall record. The team is 6-4 in conference play, but one of those losses took place this past weekend, as league-leading Miami drilled UNC in Coral Gables, 87-61.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils are in second place in the conference standings, two games behind the Hurricanes at 8-2. Duke has won five straight games since its own lopsided loss to Miami (90-63) and most recently survived a scare in Chestnut Hill, barely getting by Boston College, 62-61.
This marks the 235th all-time meeting between these two historic programs. North Carolina leads, 132-102, although the Blue Devils have won five of the last seven meetings. North Carolina has had success in Durham over the years, with Duke clinging to a 50-46 record at home in the series.
Like every other ACC team that has come across the Hurricanes this year, UNC was no match, as Miami used a barrage of 3-pointers to distance itself this past weekend. The 'Canes knocked down a school-record 15 treys against the Tar Heels, who could muster only 6-of-20 from behind the arc in return. In all, North Carolina shot only .385 from the floor, led by Reggie Bullock's 14 points. P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald joined Bullock in double figures, with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The offense has been much more free-flowing this year for North Carolina. Despite its less than stellar overall record, the Tar Heels remain one of the most dangerous offensive squads in the country, averaging 78.3 ppg. James Michael McAdoo has not had an All-American type campaign, but remains the team's top asset, leading UNC in both scoring (14.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg). Bullock has come on strong of late and is a close second in the scoring column at 14.0 ppg. Hairston has been a catalyst off the bench with his 12.3 ppg.
While North Carolina's star player has not quite lived up to his billing, Duke's has probably surpassed his. Senior forward Mason Plumlee was recently named the National Player of the Week for his efforts. The 6-foot-10 Plumlee has done it all year long, shooting .610 from the floor overall (sixth nationally), while leading the team in both scoring (18.2 ppg) and rebounding (10.7 rpg - eighth nationally). Plumlee is certainly not alone at the offensive end, as Seth Curry is a perfect complement from the perimeter, pouring in 16.8 ppg. The loss of sharpshooter Ryan Kelly (13.4 ppg) has been assuaged by both Quinn Cook (11.8 ppg) and Rasheed Sulaimon (11.4 ppg).
Plumlee saved the day against Boston College, as his three free throws with under a minute to play allowed Duke to escape with a one-point victory. Plumlee finished the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds, for yet another double-double on the season. Curry once again played Robin to Plumlee's Batman, pouring in 18 points in the win.
The shine on this matchup may be lost nationally, but not in the ACC and along Tobacco Road. The Blue Devils certainly have the advantage at home, especially with UNC struggling on the road (3-5) this year.