Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

UNC’s confident entering Duke rematch (and then some)


Every Duke-North Carolina game receives a massive amount of hype. But sometimes it’s justified when the game promises to be fantastic.

Like Saturday.

The ACC regular-season title is at stake when the Blue Devils (27-3, 13-2) play at Chapel Hill against a Tar Heels team (23-6, 13-2) that’s growing more confident by the day.

In fact, they’re confident enough to go all Joe Namath on us.

“I’m glad it’s home; that will give us a little advantage,’' Kendall Marshall Dexter Strickland told the Charlotte Observer. “I feel like the last time we played them, we just made mental errors that can be mentally corrected. I think that on Saturday, we’re going to win. I know we’re going to win on Saturday. I have a lot of confidence in myself and in my teammates. And if everybody has the same attitude I do, I know we’re going to win.”

Brash? Yes. But Strickland’s not trying to glib. He’s just calling it like he sees it. When you have that much talent on the roster, it’s an easy thing to say.

“I knew my potential, and my team’s potential,’' he told the paper. “All-Americans ... we just have to play to our potential. If everyone plays to our potential, who’s going to stop us?”

That confidence can’t be all bad. With two freshmen and three sophomores getting loads of playing time, they need all the confidence they can muster. Be brash. Be bold. It’s doing wonder for Harrison Barnes.

As Mike DeCourcy writes, the freshman wing isn’t shooting well, but his confidence is off the charts. He’s playing aggressively on offense, which is creating opportunities for his teammates (when he’s not hitting game-winning shots).

Their oldest rival comes to town Saturday. They’re going to need all the confidence they can get.

Avoiding a cold spell in the second half also would help.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.