Carolina/Dook Round 1

On the eve of the first Carolina/Duke matchup I’ve updated my scatter plot of KenPom ratings. Carolina has improved in efficiency margin by about a point since the last check-in and Duke has slipped by roughly 1/2 a point. The difference between the two is 9.3 points in favor of the bad guys. And coincidentally most have Duke favored to win by 9-11 points.

So to get a little more info I went over to to dig a little deeper into each team. A couple of things jumped out immediately. The Heels’ top 6 in the rotation (Maye, White, Johnson, Williams, Little and Brooks) account for 82.3% of field goal attempts. While Duke’s four freshman (Barrett, Williamson, Reddish and Jones) account for 77.5% of field goal attempts with Barrett taking a whopping 28.4% (!) of Duke’s shots alone.

NameFGAUsage Rate
Maye, Luke29517.79%
White, Coby28717.31%
Johnson, Cameron27116.34%
Williams, Kenny18411.10%
Little, Nassir17810.74%
Brooks, Garrison1519.11%

As you can see UNC spreads the ball around pretty evenly. I suppose this could be a positive for the Heels as they’re a little more resistant to individual players having an off night. Perhaps if the Heels can spread the ball around they’ll be able to beat Duke’s stellar defense. Games against Michigan and UVa. may suggest otherwise.

NameFGAUsage Rate
Barrett, RJ46228.45%
Williamson, Zion31919.64%
Reddish, Cam29217.98%
Jones, Tre18511.39%
White, Jack986.03%
Bolden, Marques895.48%

And as you can see here, Duke’s freshman are the show. IF the Heels could manage to shut down just two of them, I’d like their chances to win, but boy that’s a really big if. But if history is any indicator, Bolden and/or Jack White would just end up picking up the slack and having a career night. Especially given that both of them shoot the 3 well.

Here’s a totally luke warm take on the game – the transition game will be key for both teams. And the key to winning is likely going to be the team that scores more in transition. Why is that lukewarm? Well both of these teams like to run and both are pretty good at it.

UNC Offensive Possessions
OFF Start of Poss% of initial attemptseFG%
Rebound, Transition22.70%52.50%
Rebound, Halfcourt15.70%55.70%
Opp score, Transition11.60%48.80%
Opp score, Halfcourt28.20%51.00%
Steal, Transition6.90%63.40%
Steal, Halfcourt2.10%76.70%
Transition Totals41.20%53.30%
Duke Offensive Possessions
Start of Poss% of initial attemptseFG%
Rebound, Transition21.00%54.00%
Rebound, Halfcourt15.60%43.90%
Opp score, Transition6.20%75.60%
Opp score, Halfcourt33.70%47.80%
Steal, Transition7.30%75.80%
Steal, Halfcourt2.10%41.10%
Transition Totals34.50%62.40%

Duke settles into the half-court offense more often than the Heels, and they’re actually a pretty pedestrian team in the half-court. The Heels seem comfortable in the half-court, but prefer to run in transition – maybe they should consider slowing it down for this game. And here’s why…

Team% of initial attemptseFG%
Heels’ Transition Defense23.30%58.40%
Duke’s Transition Defense25.90%43.20%

Duke’s transition defense looks pretty good. Combine that with the fact that Duke is lethal when in transition and the Heels are not great in transition D, perhaps slowing the pace down would be a good thing. Of course that was UVa.’s game plan as well and it didn’t work out for them in either game this season.

So there are a few weaknesses that seem to exist for the Blue Devils and so far only Syracuse and Gonzaga have found a way to exploit them. Hopefully the Heels can be the third team to solve this one. GO Heels!!!

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