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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Duke at UNC: A look at the rest of the matchups

Posted by on Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 1:50 PM

Here's a quick look at the rest of the Duke-Carolina matchups. To recap, Triangle Offense gave the advantage at point guard to UNC and gave neither team the edge at shooting guard.

Small Forward

NBA scouts are drooling over the Danny Green-Gerald Henderson matchup. Henderson's athleticism and ability to play above the rim should translate to a successful NBA career while Green has improved his stock dramatically from last season due to his excellent decision making, improved ball-handling and defensive presence.

Green's length should give Henderson some trouble around the rim, but Henderson has such a quick first step that he'll get there before Green has a chance to block his shot.

But Greens' 3-point shooting makes him a threat in the open floor. The junior from North Babylon, N.Y., doesn't hesitate to launch transition jumpers or to take a shot in rhythm with a hand in his face. Considering he's shooting almost 45 percent from beyond the arc, Green's ability to stretch the defense makes it easier for Tyler Hansbrough to work down low.

Both Henderson and Green have shown the ability to take over games, but Henderson has been playing at an ACC Player of the Year level since the end of January. Henderson's driving ability opens lanes for his teammates as well as spots on the floor for Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer in Duke's spread offense.

Advantage:

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Power Forward

Deon Thompson exploded against Duke in round one, scoring in double digits in the first half and totaling 14 points.

But Singler presents the toughest mismatch in the ACC at the forward position. Singler's quickness and driving ability is more akin to a guard's skill set than a 6-foot-8 forward, and his beautiful stroke from beyond the arc makes him an inside-out scoring threat.

For Thompson, keeping in front of Singler and not playing too far off him on the perimeter will be key to limiting Duke's sophomore prodigy. And for Carolina, any high-percentage scoring from Thompson is a plus but he's shown the ability to disappear in the offense with poor shot selection.

Advantage:

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Center

This is a no-brainer, especially with Lance Thomas possibly missing the game due to an ankle sprain.

Brian Zoubek, who suffered a broken nose against Florida State, has yet to be spectacular and his 7-foot-1 length should allow him more than .9 shots blocked per game.

Zoubek has averaged just under 13 minutes per game but will be called upon to play closer to 30 if Thomas doesn't suit up.

On Carolina's side, reigning National Player of the Year Hansbrough will be ready for his senior night. With Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek limited by injuries, don't be surprised if the Tar Heels pound the ball inside to Hansbrough, Ed Davis, Thompson and Tyler Zeller. And if Duke's bigs get in foul trouble, this game could be decided early.

Hansbrough had a decent game against Duke in Durham, scoring 17 points on 6-9 shooting. If Thomas doesn't go, Hansbrough should be in for a monster game and will be focused on preventing the Blue Devils from returning his favor of spoiling J.J. Redick's senior night.

Advantage:

click to enlarge unknown.gif

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