Royal rumble. Rivalry night. There are any number of titles you can give Wednesday night’s duel extraordinaire between No.4 Duke and No.15 UNC.
But, really, you can sum it up with: this promises to be a really good basketball game.
These teams enter the coveted Wednesday Night Hoops time slot in very different places. The Blue Devils, on one end, are riding five straight wins entering this home game. Unlike other titans in the NCAA, their corpse is led by spritely younsters–in this case Jahlil Okafor. The freshman is leading the team in scoring, rebounds and field goal percentage, making him the first Duke frosh all-time to lead the team in all three categories.
On the other end of the court, you have the Tar Heels who have dropped three of their last four. That is not excluding a loss to Louisville in which they surrendered an 18-point halftime lead. Sure, this bout typically brings out the best in both squads, but visiting North Carolina cannot afford to get flatfooted if they expect to keep up with Duke come tip-off.
Interesting match-ups in this one? Seeing how UNC chooses to neutralize Okafor. ESPN suggests the Heels put Brice Johnson or Kennedy Meeks — or even both — up against the big Blue Devil. Neutralizing Okafor is the Heels’ golden ticket to winning this game.
Not that the excitement level won’t elevate itself — even if Wednesday’s game wasn’t at Cameron Indoor, this rivalry reaches fantasy levels. It’s so infectious that ESPN’s Jay Bilas went into a full-blown geek-out on Twitter when talking about calling the game.
Tip off for the Duke at UNC matchup is scheduled for 9pm Eastern time.
*Section Photo credit to Streeter Lecka, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Jim O’Brien, USA Today Sports