The combination of UNC’s confidence and desperation to end the season on a good note will propel the team to a shocking victory in Cameron. Cole Anthony and Garrison Brooks will continue their hot streaks while senior Brandon Robinson will also impress in his final rivalry game.
UNC 71, Duke 70
Chapel Fowler, senior writer
The accolades keep rolling for this resurgent UNC team that's emerged over the last two weeks.
Garrison Brooks is the first Tar Heel to go for 25-plus in three straight games since Tyler Hansbrough. He and Cole Anthony are the first duo to score 25-plus each in consecutive games since the 1960s. UNC has made double-digit 3-pointers in consecutive games for the first time this season.
All of those are notable (especially that last one, I think) ... but it's still Duke.
Against any other ACC team, really, North Carolina could absolutely parlay this hot streak into a fourth straight win. Not against the Blue Devils, though.
Why? I really just don't buy that No. 12 Duke's trending downward. Tre Jones (sorry to mention him, UNC fans), Vernon Carey Jr., Cassius Stanley and Wendell Moore Jr. (sorry again) are all studs, even in the face of three losses in their last five games.
This is a long way of saying UNC's running into a buzzsaw Saturday. Look for Carey, especially, to make his mark on his first and last game against North Carolina in Cameron Indoor Stadium. He was unstoppable in the first half of round one until foul trouble hampered him.
Duke 90, UNC 82
Jared McMasters, assistant sports editor
If you regularly keep up with UNC or Duke men’s basketball, you’ve probably seen the recycled graphic about how the two programs have put up mind-bogglingly similar numbers in the last 100 or so matchups.
Factoring in February’s overtime thriller, Duke now leads the head-to-head series in wins and points scored in the last 101 meetings, 51-50 and 7,844-7,842, respectively. In one of North Carolina’s strangest and least impressive seasons in decades, it seems like now more than ever could be the matchup that throws ESPN’s favorite statistic to broadcast all out of whack.
After blowing a 13-point lead with four minutes left in regulation in a game where Cole Anthony posted 24 points and 11 rebounds in front of a home crowd, it’s hard to imagine that the Tar Heels don’t feel like they already missed their chance at upsetting the Blue Devils this season.
I just can’t picture this UNC team — a squad that hasn’t won four consecutive games since the beginning of the season in November — overcoming that deflating mental obstacle to steal a win at Cameron Indoor Stadium and maintain the graphic's typically narrow margin.
Duke 79, UNC 60
Ryan Wilcox, sports editor
For all the praise deservedly heaped on Tre Jones after Duke's win over the Tar Heels on Feb. 8, Cole Anthony was the point guard UNC has needed all season, scoring a team-high 24 points and answering the call against the Blue Devils for most of the second half. Jones took over in the overtime period, but if Anthony can play within himself while still cobbling together enough points to keep it close, I like North Carolina's chances of an upset.
Recent results have been promising: in his last three outings, all UNC wins, Anthony's averaging 24 points and 6.3 assists to go with 2.7 turnovers — not great, but well below his season average. He's also shot a blistering 12 of 20 from deep in those games. If Anthony can stay hot while making sure his teammates stay involved, I think the Tar Heels can win a close one.
UNC 85, Duke 83
@DTHSports | email@example.com