Last year’s games between North Carolina and Duke featured two dominant bigs in Armando Bacot and Paolo Banchero, with Brady Manek providing valuable shooting for UNC and Mark Williams giving Duke elite rim protection. Now, three of those four bigs are gone, with Bacot being the only frontcourt starter from those games still on his respective team.
Here's a breakdown of the newest class of big men to battle it out in college basketball's greatest rivalry:
To this point in the season, UNC's recently crowned all-time leading rebounder has continued to add to his standout career.
Bacot is averaging 17.9 points per game and 11.4 rebounds while shooting nearly 58 percent from the field in his senior campaign, and his playmaking has also improved en route to recording a career-high 1.8 assists per game as of Jan. 27.
Bacot is responsible for a lot of the Tar Heels’ offense in the low-post and in short-roll opportunities, so finding a way to stop him will be critical for the Blue Devils. Last season, Bacot averaged 15.3 points per game in the three Duke games, and his 23 points on 10-11 shooting in the regular season finale in Durham was critical in the Tar Heels pulling off the upset victory.
Nance was the prized acquisition for North Carolina this off-season, as the Northwestern graduate transfer immediately filled the void left by Manek in the starting lineup.