Thursday, February 10, 2011
Duke 79, North Carolina 73
Great game last night, much better than the pundits expected. Duke pulled it out with 34 points from their great senior, Nolan Smith, and 22 from their transfer sophomore Seth Curry (above), who is the brother of NBA star Stephon Curry. Carolina has been coming on in ACC play, and they gave the Blue Devils a hell of a game, and probably should have won. Duke will have to play much better to beat them in Chapel Hill next month in the final game of the regular season, which will likely decide the regular season championship.
Just to put it in perspective... North Carolina is supposedly "down" this year, but their starting five were ranked as follows in the Rivals.com Top 150 recruits over the past three years: Harrison Barnes (#2 - 2010), John Henson (#5 - 2009), Kendall Marshall (#32 - 2010), Tyler Zeller (#33 - 2008), and Dexter Strickland (#34 - 2009). In other words, they are very very good players who were very highly recruited coming out of college. People can fail to develop, of course, or they can develop beyond the level they were recruited --Curry, for instance, wasn't in the Top 150 three years ago, and started his college career at Libery University. And the marginal perceived differences between highly ranked recruits at age 17 can be entirely different a few years later --in 2007, when Duke's Kyle Singler was the number five recruit in the country, Blake Griffin, an NBA All-Star and likely Rookie of the Year, was only the number 23 recruit.
But still... North Carolina is awfully good and awfully dangerous. See you in March.