By MIKE McCURRY College basketball’s greatest rivalry takes center stage on Thursday (8:00 ESPN), as No. 8 North Carolina visits No. 18 Duke in the 243rd installment of the Tobacco Road showdown. UNC leads the all-time series, 134-108, but Duke has won 11 of 15 meetings dating back to the start of the 2009-10 season.Chances are, if you’re reading this, you awoke Thursday with a Christmas morning feeling (and not because of the snow). Regardless, I encourage you to check out this short little pump-up video courtesy of the Duke men’s basketball Twitter account to further get your heart pounding for tonight’s game.
Is Grayson Allen himself again? A preseason All-American, Allen’s turf toe injury and (primarily) extracurricular activities have overshadowed—and in some ways have probably influenced—his decline in production this season. Lately though, the 6-foot-5 guard is performing to the level we all thought he was capable of back in the fall. Allen is averaging 20.3 points in his last three games, making 13-of-29 three-pointers and 14-of-14 free throws during this stretch. He’s not a point guard—which it appears the Duke coaching staff has finally come to terms with—making Frank Jackson and Matt Jones all the more indispensable as far as handling the ball and finding Allen and Kennard off screens. Speaking of Kennard (19.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG), you already knew he was a stud. But did you know the rate at which the southpaw is tearing up elite competition?
I appreciate how matter of fact Joel Berry is. From yesterday: "Since I've been here, I've had a great deal of hatred against Duke."— Andrew Carter (@_andrewcarter) February 8, 2017
Will Theo Pinson be available? UNC’s Swiss Army Knife, Theo Pinson is questionable for Thursday after having missed the last three games with a right ankle injury. Pinson, who missed the first 16 games of the season due to a broken right foot, does a little bit of everything offensively (5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists in 16.2 minutes) and is arguably UNC’s top defender. The Tar Heels are 6-0 this year when he suits up. Should the 6-foot-6 junior be able to go, expect him to check Tatum at times—a matchup that could determine the outcome of the game. Trevon Duval will be in attendance. Five-star high school senior Trevon Duval will be situated right behind Duke’s bench on Thursday as part of his official visit. Duval, who is considering Kansas, Arizona, Baylor, and Seton Hall in addition to the Blue Devils, is an explosive 6-foot-3 point guard currently playing at IMG Academy in Florida. The Delaware native is expected to sit with Duke commits Wendell Carter and Gary Trent Jr., who will undoubtedly attempt to persuade Duval to join the Blue Devils’ 2017 class. Duke, which lost out on Matt Coleman (Texas) and Quade Green (Kentucky), desperately needs an incoming point guard, and Duval clearly fits that bill. Photo: @UNC_Basketball Follow Mike on Twitter Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter And like ZAGS on Facebook
Luke Kennard vs kenpom Top 50 opponents:3PT: 24-39 (61.5%)
2PT: 43-67 (64.2%)
FT: 41-48 (85.4%) — Chris Bunn (@ChrisBunn21) February 6, 2017