No. 5 Duke, No. 9 North Carolina meet in annual regular-season finale

By The Sports Xchange

No. 9 North Carolina and No. 5 Duke meet in Saturday night's regular-season finale and one of them will have a two-game losing streak heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

That's because they're both coming off losses earlier in the week.


This matchup certainly has both teams refocused in a hurry.

"To play a game of this caliber before you get into the ACC (Tournament), but also the NCAA, is a great thing," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

Both teams lost the game before their annual meeting in the regular-season finale for the first time since 2007.

"It's little stuff we're doing and we'll get corrected," North Carolina senior guard Theo Pinson said.

The winner of this game will finish with the No. 2 seed for the ACC Tournament next week in New York. Otherwise, Duke will be the No. 3 seed and North Carolina could slip to anywhere from No. 4 to No. 6. All other ACC games will be complete before tipoff for this game.


Both teams lost in the waning seconds in their most-recent games on Monday.

Duke suffered a 64-63 setback at Virginia Tech on a put-back basket with 4.1 seconds left. North Carolina fell the next night at home 91-88 to Miami on a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"That is the fun thing about basketball," North Carolina senior guard Joel Berry II said. "You can have your ups and downs and you always get another chance to play (before tournament time). Right now, we got to be blessed to get back out (and practice) and get ready for Saturday."

While there's plenty riding on this game, including seeding spots for the NCAA Tournament, there's an emotional element of another kind that's bound to be part of the Duke storyline.

It's the final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium for Duke senior guard Grayson Allen, who has scored 931 points in the building. Overall, Allen has 1,889 points to rank 18th on Duke's career scoring list.

Allen said he learned not to take the atmosphere for granted.

"It's what I dreamed about and try to be appreciative of it," he said. "You just feel very connected to the crowd. When you win, they win. When you lose, they lose."


Allen was part of a freshman-filled roster in 2015. That team won Duke's last national championship. Others moved on, but Allen is still here.

"We don't have as many seniors who have accomplished that (much) at that level," Krzyzewski said.

This week's loss snapped North Carolina's season-best six-game winning streak.

"We just have to bring it for 40 minutes," North Carolina guard Kenny Williams said.

North Carolina won 82-78 against Duke in a Feb. 8 game in Chapel Hill.

After that, Duke won five in a row, but a recent stretch of four games in nine days took a toll.

"We needed to refuel," Krzyzewski said.

This will be Krzyzewski's 1,300th game as Duke's coach. Of those, 88.8 percent (1,154) have been with the Blue Devils in the national rankings.

Duke is 79-56 under Krzyzewski in games with both teams ranked in the top 10. The Blue Devils are 37-11 in such matchups at home.

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