Zion Williamson puts on a show as Duke nips rival North Carolina


So, yeah, it turns out the Blue Devils missed one of the most dominant college basketball players of the last decade.

North Carolina spurted out to an early 33-20 advantage with the Blue Devils struggling from the field in the opening 10 minutes.

We know the last game was a tale of two halves with Virginia Tech dominating the first half and the Noles dominating the second half before taking over in overtime. I mean the rivalry lived up to what I expected it to be. Little reached behind him to box out the future No. 1 overall pick, but Williamson had stepped inside to the center of the lane for the rebound and a quick put-back on what would be the game victor.

R.J. Barrett came down with a rebound off a missed UNC three at the other end and was fouled, but he missed both free throws with 13 seconds left to give the Tar Heels a chance to hit a game victor.

Williamson - who sprained his knee less than 40 seconds into the team's first matchup and missed the second with the injury - registered a game-high 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to inspire Duke. "It's such a blend of strength and power and quickness that we couldn't stop him getting the basketball inside and going to the basket". "Instead of [R.J. Barrett and Williamson] giving energy to a teammate, they were getting energy from a teammate". Coby White and Luke Maye each chipped in 19 points in that one, while Cam Johnson and Garrison Brooks each tallied double-figures. "The physicality increases, and probably the game even slows down some, and so you've got to knock down shots when you get them". Three weeks later, he sat out the regular-season finale in Chapel Hill, and again the Heels dominated. The Blue Devils have just one loss with their full starting five on the court, and that makes a strong case for the NCAA tournament selection committee to put them on the top line and send them to nearby Columbia, South Carolina - just down the road from Williamson's hometown of Spartanburg.

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But Carolina has felt a measure of disrespect, something that was surely compounded in the immediate aftermath of the game that would have settled any debate.

Williamson's towering dunk in transition will go down as the most-replayed highlight of the game, but it was a key offensive rebound and go-ahead tip from Williamson while surrounded by four North Carolina players that won Duke the game.

"I'd have bet $1,000 right there that shot was going in", he said, "but it didn't".

The Cavaliers loss comes on the same floor where they became the first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament to lose to a 16 seed in Maryland-Baltimore County past year. In those six games without Zion, those numbers dropped to 101.1 and 98.6, respectively. They were pushed to the wire at Clemson, but every other one of those wins has been by at least eight points, and the average margin of victory during that stretch has been 14.63. Both teams made it to the Final Four in Indianapolis. And you can ask nearly any graduate from either university.

But if this year's national championship comes down to the best two teams in the nation, we may for the first time get Duke-Carolina Part IV.