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February 5, 2008
MORE: Head-to-Head Breakdown
Wednesday night's meeting in Chapel Hill marks the 11th time in the history of the storied rivalry that the teams will meet with both ranked among the top five in The Associated Press poll.
The Blue Devils (19-1, 7-0) sit second in the polls and first in the ACC. The Tar Heels (21-1, 6-1) are third in the polls, second in the conference.
This is the 224th meeting between the powers. UNC leads 127-96, but Duke has won six of the past nine at the Dean Smith Center.
The biggest story surrounding this meeting is the health of Tar Heels point guard Ty Lawson, a 5-foot-10 sophomore who suffered a sprained ankle early in UNC's overtime win at Florida State on Sunday. Coach Roy Williams said Monday on the ACC teleconference that "I don't feel real good about him playing."
His absence would be a major blow. Lawson averages 13.6 points, 5.7 assists and 1.9 steals. He is a top-notch decision-maker, and he takes good care of the ball. Without him ? and already having lost backup point guard Bobby Frasor to a season-ending knee injury ? the Heels have serious questions at the point. The probable starter is third-stringer Quentin Thomas, a heretofore little-used senior.
Here's a closer look at the Blue Devils-Tar Heels matchup, assuming Lawson is unable to go:
Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.