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DWHoops Presents ACC Women's Basketball Digest

  2013 ACC Championship Preview
Duke and Carolina Rivalry Renewed for ACC Hardware
March 9, 2013

By Rob Clough

ACC Tournament Final. Sunday, March 10th, 2013, 2:00pm. Greensboro Coliseum.

The Teams: #1 seed Duke (29-2, 17-1 ACC) vs #3 seed UNC (28-5, 14-4 ACC).

The Stakes: Duke still has an off chance of getting a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. UNC is trying to secure a #2 seed.

Tournament Play: Tricia Liston and Haley Peters have broken out of shooting slumps to lead Duke to victories. Alexis Jones continues her steady and sometimes spectacular play at point guard. For the Heels, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt's iron will has kept her team in games they would have otherwise lost. Watleia Rolle has been productive and played especially well against Maryland. Deep reserve Latifah Coleman "came from Mars" (to quote coach Sylvia Hatchell) to lead the Heels to a huge comeback win against Maryland.

The Skinny: Both teams have had challenging games in which they trailed for periods of time, and both have had to give a lot of minutes to their starters. Both teams also have solid eight-woman rotations that have been given real workouts. In other words, both teams should be experiencing similar levels of fatigue, and both teams had to really buckle down at the end of games to secure wins, which reflects mental toughness.

What remains is execution, effort and efficiency. The Heels want to work the basket inside to Rolle and Xylina McDaniel; Duke wants to shut that down and get the ball to Elizabeth Williams. UNC wants Tierra Ruffin-Pratt to attack the basket and find others for easy scores; Duke wants Alexis Jones to do the same. Duke wants to free up Tricia Liston for three point shots; the Heels will want to do the same for Brittany Rountree and Megan Buckland. The x-factors will be Haley Peters and Richa Jackson for Duke. If that duo is productive and gets rebounds in addition to jump shots, then Duke should be able to win. If Peters loses confidence in her shot and starts turning the ball over and Jackson is ineffective off the dribble, then the Heels have a great shot at winning if they take care of the ball and hit their foul shots. I expect this to be a physical, nasty war between two teams that don't like each other and aren't afraid to let emotions spill over on the floor sometimes as a way of firing up their sides. I expect the crowd to be over 10,000 and to be fairly split between the two sides, creating an exciting atmosphere for what should be a closely-contested game.

Publisher's Note: As They Might Be Giants once sung, "Precious and few are the moments that you and your own worst enemy share." We'll be there for every minute of tomorrow's clash between these legendary rivals to bring you our usual full coverage, including the post-game celebration. We'll have photos of game action, fans, cheerleaders, pep bands, and anything else that catches our unblinking eye, with additional and larger photos for our Digest site members!


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