Remember back when a Duke-North Carolina game meant someone – maybe everyone – was going home bloody? Ah, the good old days.
This year, the Blue Devils beat the Tar Heels easily, trotting up and down the floor and barely seeming to break a sweat in a 69-53 rout. The perils of small-ball, one supposes.
For Duke, this game proved that, to quote Dennis Green: “They are who we thought they were!” With Ryan Kelly back, and Carolina already playing a small lineup, there was simply no room for a happy ending for local fans in Chapel Hill. Duke got 23 points and 13 rebounds from a rampaging Mason Plumlee, and kept the interior loose by feeding Seth Curry to the tune of 20 points, mostly on smooth jumpers.
The futility of the evening was best captured by the @DaggumRoy Twitter parody account:
Boys, I’m arms-foldin’ hard as I can. Don’t know what else u wont me to do.
— Daggum Roy (@DaggumRoy) March 10, 2013
Duke heads into the ACC tournament as the league’s No. 2 seed, and Coach K’s boys would no doubt love to end up facing Miami on the final day. The question all season long has been “how many games would Duke have won if Ryan Kelly had been healthy?” That question can’t be answered, but the Blue Devils can show they have what it takes to match up with the Hurricanes if both make it to the title game.
For Carolina, this isn’t the worst news ever. Small ball has gotten them to this point, and it could still get them to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, if they manage not to run into another accurate, rangy, speedy team full of collegiate All-Stars coached by a Hall of Famer. It’s doable – there aren’t a lot of them out there.
Duke-North Carolina still holds the title of Best College Hoops Rivalry, but it was pretty flat this year. Here’s hoping both teams get up to their old tricks again before the season is all said and done.