Mismatch or not, the rivalry resumes

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The North Carolina Tar Heels lead the Duke Blue Devils 43-40 at the half during the game at the Dean E. Smith Center on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012.

Though their records and ranks suggest otherwise, the North Carolina men’s basketball team and Duke aren’t as mismatched as they look on paper.

“They are a good team,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said about the Tar Heels in the ACC’s weekly teleconference on Monday.

“Look, if we are both judged by our performance, our last performance against Miami for both of us, the game wouldn’t be on TV.

“But that’s not the way it is. We are both really good teams.”

Duke is 21-2, 8-2 in conference play. In the most recent AP poll, the Blue Devils came in second.

The unranked Tar Heels, on the other hand, are 16-7 and 6-4 in the ACC.

But both the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels struggled mightily on their respective trips to South Florida.

Saturday, Roy Williams’ squad was dismantled by the Hurricanes 87-61. Just a litle more than two weeks ago, those same Hurricanes knocked off then-No. 1 Duke 90-63.

Wednesday night at 9, North Carolina must face the challenge that lies inside the reknown Cameron Indoor Stadium.

“I know we didn’t play as well as we wanted to by any means in Miami on Saturday … Now we’re turning around and playing Duke,” Williams said in the teleconference. “I think Duke is one of the premier teams in the league.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Duke and Miami ended up being the top four, top five teams in the country, because I think they’re good and playing well.”

While Williams said the Blue Devils and the Hurricanes are playing good basketball right now, Krzyzewski said UNC also has some weapons that his squad will have to prepare for.

“I know (James Michael) McAdoo is an outstanding player,” Krzyzewski said. “(Reggie) Bullock, I think, is one of the best players in the country because of his ability to score.

“And at six-(foot)-seven — you don’t think of scorers as being rebounders — but he’s a heck of an offensive rebounder.”

Krzyzewski added that UNC has been successful on the glass and in transition — two areas he’d like to see his own team improve upon.

But all the ACC games that have already been played this year — and the stats compiled in those games — matter little on the stage of this rivalry.

That stage is now set for the 235th meeting between the two programs, and it promises to be a truer comparison of the two teams than conference record or national rank.

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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