College Basketball: Duke and North Carolina Looking for Answers

Al Dannity | Updated Jan 19, 2012

The Blue Devils are off to an unbeaten start in ACC play but still have their doubters. North Carolina have the top scoring and rebounding team in the nation but just got ripped apart at Florida State. Al Dannity tries to make sense of where the powers of Tobacco Road and headed as we near the business end of the NCAA Basketball season.

The Blue Devils will be fine Mike Krzyzewski knows he has a very good team on his hands. It may not be a great team but very good has often been enough to go all the way in March Madness. The last two national champions, Duke in 2010 and UConn last year, were very good teams with gaping flaws. This duo ended an unbroken run of other-worldly teams that stretched from Syracuse in 2003 through to North Carolina in 2009. Having been spoiled by all the #1 seeds making the Final Four in 2008, College Basketball betting fans have been scared off believing that very good is good enough to win it all. Losses at Ohio State and Temple showed this team is mortal but quality neutral site wins over Michigan, Michigan State, and Kansas bode well for the rest of the year.

The curious case of the Tar Heels A 33 point road loss at Florida State may be an aberration. More often than not such a staggering margin of defeat is a red flag for a national title contender. On a pure talent basis, the Tar Heels have unquestionably the best roster in the ACC. Only Kentucky and Ohio State can claim to have comparably deep squads. The Wildcats and Buckeyes have both slipped at times this season but neither suffered the kind of meltdown we witnessed in Tallahassee at the weekend. Time however is on North Carolina’s side. At worst the Tar Heels will be a #3 seed in March Madness, I still think North Carolina will climb into one of the four #1 seed berths. What they do once they get there is another matter. In tournament play there’s no room for a meltdown, no way to make up for one big slip.

What we need to see tonight Duke’s task against Wake Forest is more straight-forward than the one facing UNC at Virginia Tech. That said, I’d rather be a Demon Deacon than a Hokie tonight. The Blue Devils just need to take care of business and maintain their unbeaten start in the ACC. The pieces are in place, a #1 or #2 seed is probable, and they will be a tough out for any team on any court.

The Tar Heels will head to Blacksburg looking to vent their frustrations. I have little doubt they will attack Virginia Tech with venom on the boards. That however is not what we need to see. A bulldozing performance might look good on Sportscenter but it won’t prove anything. No, instead the Tar Heels must show greater focus. This talented roster needs to show attention to detail, addressing the issues that hurt UNC against the Seminoles. More than that North Carolina needs to show the mission tonight is beating Virginia Tech. It is not about vengeance or making a statement. The Hokies are in for a rough night, what kind of a rough night is what really matters.

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