The return of many experienced, dynamic big men will play a key role in this season’s rivalry games. Here’s a look into how the notable bigs on each team have performed so far this season:
Bacot currently leads the ACC in rebounds with 9.9 per game and is also averaging 13.4 points. Additionally, he is shooting 78.6 percent from the free throw line — much higher than his previous average of 67 percent in the 2021-22 season.
In UNC’s two losses to Duke last year, Bacot averaged 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds for a double-double. To come out on top this year, Bacot will need to make better passes and allow UNC to fully utilize its wings and guards, in addition to his regular scoring and rebounding performance.
The Blue Devils will be eager to push Bacot out to the perimeter, and force him to lose control of his usual post. Teams like Kentucky, who did this successfully earlier in the season, came out of the game victorious. Bacot will likely draw a matchup against Filipowski, who brings extreme versatility and will challenge Bacot's scoring abilities in the paint.
Washington spent much of his final year of high school recovering from a knee injury, which hindered his first-year season with the Tar Heels, causing him to only record 113 minutes. This year, however, has been a different story.
The sophomore forward has already logged 182 minutes and is averaging 69.2 percent shooting on field goals, as well as 50 percent from 3-point range. He’s become comfortable in a variety of positions on the floor, whether it be rebounding and blocking under the basket or shooting outside the arch.
His shooting ability makes him a key offensive contributor, while his 7-foot-4-inch wing span makes him an effective rim protector on defense.