Gerry Broome/Associated Press
North Carolina made light work of Duke in a 91-73 victory at the Dean Smith Center on Saturday to register a season sweep over its bitter rival.
The Tar Heels (16-9, 10-6 ACC) led from start to finish, opening up a 42-26 halftime and keeping the Blue Devils (11-11, 9-9 ACC) at arms-length for the final 20 minutes with North Carolina’s bench scoring as many points as Duke’s entire team could muster—head coach Roy Williams gave his seniors a chance to start in their final home game of the year.
Caleb Love, Kerwin Walton and Armando Bacot each scored a game-high 18 points for UNC while Garrison Brooks added 14 points on his own. All but one Duke starter scored in double figures led by 18 points from Mark Williams while Matthew Hurt poured in 14 points with six rebounds.
According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, Duke entered Saturday as one of the first four teams on the outside of the NCAA tournament bubble looking in. A victory at North Carolina likely would’ve moved the Blue Devils just inside, though there’s no guarantee they would’ve remained there. Now that seems like a long-shot, at best.
Duke’s last chance to enter the field of 68 will come down to the ACC tournament next week, where they’ll have to win out in order to claim the conference’s automatic bid. The Blue Devils will begin that quest as the No. 10 seed facing No. 15 Boston College on Tuesday. The winner of that matchup will face seventh-seeded Louisville.
Anything short of an ACC tournament title and the Blue Devils can expect to miss out on March Madness for the first time since 1995—the second-longest active streak in the NCAA behind Kansas (30 years).
UNC, meanwhile, was projected as a No. 10 seed by Lunardi before Saturday’s win. They Tar Heels begin the ACC Tournament as No. 6 seed set to face the winner between Notre Dame and Wake Forest.
Duke swept the season series last year before North Carolina returned the favor by finishing off the Blue Devils at the Dean Smith Center on Saturday. The Tar Heels won, 91-87, at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb 6.
The matchup marked first time the rivals have played two consecutive games against each other as unranked opponents in at least 65 years.
North Carolina extended its all-time series lead to 141-114 with the win.