As we count down to the opening of the basketball season, let’s take a look at an opponent on North Carolina’s schedule ....
Date(s): Feb. 13 (in Durham, N.C.) and March 9 (in Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Series results: UNC leads 132-102. (The Tar Heels went 1-1 against the Blue Devils last season, losing at home and winning in Durham.)
Duke last season: 27-7, 13-3 in the ACC. Lost to Lehigh in the NCAA Round of 64.
Foe to know: Mason Plumlee, 6-10 forward, senior.
Plumlee, who averaged 11.1 points and 9.2 rebounds last season, could have joined his older brother, Miles, in the NBA this season. Instead, he opted to return to Duke, he told The Wilmington Star-News, because “I want people to say that ‘when this was Seth [Curry’s], Ryan [Kelly’s] and my team, this is what they did. They won big.' I knew with Miles leaving and Austin [Rivers] leaving there would be more of a role for me.”
One key role will be to balance out an offense that relied heavily on outside shooting last season. Another: to lead a team that appears to have all the pieces to contend for an ACC title, and beyond.
Tidbits: A huge focus for the Blue Devils this season will be defense. Duke allowed opponents to score 68.6 ppg last season and to make 43.3 percent of their field goal attempts, ranking the Devils 10th in the ACC in both categories. … Guard Andre Dawkins, who averaged 8.4 points and 22.4 minutes as a junior, is redshirting this season. ... Rivers might be gone, but don't expect the Tar Heels to forget his game-winner at the Smith Center last season anytime soon. Look for the fiery rivalry to continue.
Previous schedule previews:
Nov. 19 Mississippi State in the Maui Invitational
Nov. 20 Butler/Marquette in the Maui Invitational
Nov. 21 TBA in the Maui Invitational
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.