The future of the Duke and North Carolina rivalry
Coach K and Roy Williams are now retired. With two legends gone, what does the Duke-North Carolina NCAA Basketball rivalry look like going forward?
In what was the most anticipated college basketball game of all time, eighth-seeded North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament defeated Duke in another historic chapter of the sport’s greatest rivalry. . Coach K’s legendary career came to an abrupt end in New Orleans and marked a new era not just in college basketball, but in the Duke-North Carolina rivalry.
Hubert Davis has now coached in a national title match in just his first year and is bringing many players back from that run to the title match. Down the road in Durham, Jon Scheyer brings what might be Duke’s most complete class in his first season. Although there are new faces on Tobacco Road, Duke and UNC will remain among college basketball’s elite.
Tar Heels expectations next season
The North Carolina rivalry team next season is a little easier to break. The Tar Heels will bring back much of their core from the NCAA Tournament held last season. While Hubert Davis may not be as transfer-heavy as some might expect, the returning players he brings should be more than enough.
For starters, UNC’s backcourt should be more cohesive. RJ Davis and Caleb Love had their moments last year but really got it once the schedule shifted to March. Davis could potentially be one of the best point guards in the country next season. His shooting divisions were much better in the latter part of the season as he began to use his quickness as the Heels’ primary ball handler. His best of course came in the second round where Davis’ 30 points helped UNC advance to the Sweet 16.
Love, Davis’ backcourt partner, really came into the tournament and showed off some of the skills that a lot of people knew he had. With Caleb Love, the main focus for him heading into next season isn’t a particular basketball trait. It’s just, will he have the confidence he had in the tournament.
While the Tar Heels defense was unspectacular by any stretch of the imagination, the return of Leaky Black is a big help. Black’s DBPR of 22.4 was second on the team only to Armando Bacot (Evanmiya.com). Seth Trimble will also be a solid addition to heels next year. The freshman point guard will be used in a backup role and will give UNC another ball handler.
In the frontcourt, the loss of Brady Manek will hurt the Tar Heels enormously. Manek is expected around 45% from three from early March and has also added significantly more at 6’10. Puff Johnson is expected to step into a starting role and showed superb flashes in the title match. Freshman Jalen Washington had a rough summer last year but should help as a depth play.
The biggest comeback for the Tar Heels, however, is, of course, Armand Bacot. Bacot averaged 16 points and 13 rebounds per game last season and finished the season with 31 double-doubles. Bacot also brought it every night on defense averaging 1.7 blocks per game. Bacot will be the early favorite for the ACC Player of the Year next year and he probably should have won it this year.
North Carolina has an open roster sport with Kerwin Walton deciding to transfer. How they use that spot is yet to be determined, but expect the Tar Heels to look to replace Manek and cement themselves as one of the top five teams of the pre-season.
Blue Devils expectation next season
Somehow, despite being one of the best programs in the country for the past decade, Duke doesn’t care that he’s still the preseason champion. However, this is a false reality. Duke hasn’t been number one in the preseason since the 2017-18 season. On top of that, in the last three tournaments Duke has entered, they’ve gone to two elite eights and one final four. This year, although they are not, there is an argument for them to be number one in the pre-season.
As always, Duke substitutes a lot. Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin, Mark Williams, Wendell Moore and potentially Trevor Keels could all have left for the Blue Devils. However, that’s nothing new for Duke, even under a new regime. Jon Scheyer has already proven what a good recruiter he is as he has locked down the number one recruiting class for not just 2022 but potentially 2023 as well. This class for Duke as a freshman for Scheyer might be the most comprehensive in a while.
While Dariq Whitehead isn’t the first freshman in the nation to come next year or the No. 1 player in Duke’s class, he’ll likely be the one to grab people’s attention during the Champions Classic against the Kansas. Whitehead won’t primarily handle the ball for Duke because Jeremy Roach returns, but Whitehead’s scoring ability is likely the trait that will make him stand out at the start of the season. Also, with the steps taken by Jeremy Roach at the end of last season, it will be much easier for him to attack instead of having to create his own shot.
Few will know much about Derek Lively or Kyle Filipowski coming next season, but both have big shoes to fill and are going to have important roles. Lively will be tasked with replacing Mark Williams’ rim guard. Luckily for Duke, that’s exactly what his role will be. Lively is extremely athletic for a guy his size and at 7’1 he has the advantage of being considered for national defensive awards.
Filipowksi, another frontline player for Duke next season, will have most of his impact on the offensive end. Filipowski is a big shooter who could actually play a Brady Manek-type role for Duke this season. At 6’11, Filipowksi is a great shooter and can take him down and make plays as well. He will be big when it comes to opening traffic lanes for Whitehead and Roach.
Duke will also bring in freshmen Mark Mitchell and Jaden Schutt, as well as big man Ryan Young who transferred from Northwestern. Regardless of Trevor Keels’ decision, this Duke team should compete for a national championship in Jon Scheyer’s first season.
Duke-North Carolina Future Prospects
Hubert Davis has already proven himself in the first year and Jon Scheyer with the team he has will probably do the same. Scheyer already has five players committed to the 2023 class and Hubert Davis has already secured commitments from two players in that class. The two legends of Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams may be done coaching, but neither program is collapsing. Williams and K have both left their successors in great places and it’s already showing.
The future of the best rivalry in college basketball is going to stay that way for a long time and it’s definitely not going anywhere.
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