Friday, 7:30 p.m. in Chapel Hill (ESPNU) What's at stake The winner earns a trip to the ACC final on Sunday and likely a home game in the NCAA tournament. The Tar Heels (10-3) have won seven in row since falling to the Blue Devils, 11-8, on March 13. Duke (11-4) is also on fire, winners of nine straight games, In his career, coach John Danowski is 18-2 against North Carolina. Who to watch Both teams should score. Carolina's attack unit is the scariest in the country with Marcus Holman (Gilman, pictured) and his Smurfy sidekicks Joey Sankey and Jimmy Bitter. These three pose major problems because of their ability as slippery dodgers and playmakers around the cage. "These are the two best teams in the country, from where I'm standing," ESPN analyst Matt Ward said. "Offensively, both teams can torment opposing defenses. Marcus Holman is phenomenal. I can't recall another player transforming from a pure shooter into an elite offensive quarterback as smoothly as Holman." What will make the difference "Like every big-time game, it will be decided in the middle of the field — who wins the ground-ball battle, who's willing to do the little things necessary to gain that small advantage," Ward said. "If Duke can repeat its regular-season performance of going 17-of-23 at the faceoff stripe and out-ground-balling UNC 39-, the Heels could be in trouble." North Carolina's defense is vastly improved since that meeting. Duke thinks it is the tougher team, but the Heels are confident and believe they are due. This game will be supercharged.
JEFFREY A. CAMARATI, UNC Athletics