Will Zion Williamson play against North Carolina?
Whether or not his absence swung the balance toward UNC the first time around, the answer to this impending question just might change everything on March 9 — no matter what the decision is.
After Williamson went down with a knee injury 36 seconds into the first UNC-Duke game, the Blue Devils have been a very different team. The team has struggled to find its identity without the future lottery pick, who had been accounting for 26 percent of his team's offense until he blew out his shoe and sprained his knee.
“You can’t put together a well-oiled machine in a couple practices to play in this conference at a level when you lose a kid like that,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the Wake Forest game, according to GoDuke. “And there is no other kid like that. He’s probably the National Player of the Year.”
Since that time, that scoring power and celebrity has been missing for Duke. The Blue Devils have had a 3-2 record without Williamson, losing as many games in five contests as the team did in the 25 previous ones with Williamson on the court. With a 16-point loss to UNC and a one-point win over Wake Forest as the low points of that run, the team has since slid from No. 1 down to No. 4 and was bypassed by the No. 3 Tar Heels in the most recent poll.