Note: the title of this article is merely metaphorical, and in no way advocating physical violence against Jon Scheyer. As far as you know.
So the rivalry returns again. Let’s revisit the situation Carolina found itself in last time: spiraling quickly downwards, hopes of an NCAA berth already basically out of reach, desperate to preserve a sense of pride with a win over its rival. The rematch offers a few slight differences: UNC has found itself in the midst of a slight upturn with two straight wins that have kindled a tiny bit of hope in the fan base, even though the idea of an NCAA berth is beyond banished at this point. Unfortunately, however, the key difference in this game may be that the team who has more to play for in terms of pride… is Duke.
The Devils are coming off of a loss at Maryland that may have cost them the regular season ACC title, and as if that’s not enough in terms of motivation the Crazies will be frothing at the mouth after having endured UNC spoiling its last FOUR games against the Devils in Cameron Indoor. Stop to think about that for a second - not a single player on Duke’s roster has ever beaten the Heels at home. I’m sure they’ve been reminded about that enough times this week to make their ears bleed.
That, my friends, may be one of the only vestiges of hope Carolina has left in this game: as Alex said before the first game, and reiterated below, all the pressure is on Duke. Vegas has made them 14.5-point favorites in this game, which is pretty unthinkable in this rivalry, but sadly completely understandable. Carolina is still not a very good shooting team. They turn the ball over a great deal. They go long spurts without scoring. So yeah, what we’re really hoping for is the possibility that the gravity of the situation gets to the Devils. Duke Seniors Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek, to you I say: we must break you.
Duke expects to win, and that is a good thing for Carolina. Everyone knows what happened in Cameron Indoor four years ago, as the best freshman in the country came into Durham and ruined JJ Redick and Shelden Williams’ senior night, which means the element of surprise is gone, but it also means a precedent is there.
I have no analysis as to how the Heels can accomplish this. As I posited before the first matchup, it will take a miracle to beat the Devils head-to-head this year. So break out your lucky shirts, hats, towels, or whatever other little talisman you have because the Heels will need every bit of them tonight. But oh, it if happens, how sweet it would be. Here’s hoping the Scheyer Face we see at the end of the night holds a frown instead of a smirk.