If you haven't noticed the bond between Irving and senior guard Nolan Smith, you haven't been paying attention.
During games, it's not uncommon for Smith to look over to Irving almost as often as he looks toward Coach K. It's a situation as peculiar as any in college basketball, a senior All-American with 128 games of experience under his belt looking to the bench for advice and encouragement from an injured freshman who has logged all of 231 minutes in his college career.
There's a lot of great stuff like that. Mike Patrick and Len Elmore touched on his passion during the State game, and I completely agreed; he's an awesome teammate. How many mega-stars like Kyrie would do all their sulking in private and put on a supportive show for teammates from day one, knowing full well their season might be finished? He never missed a beat on the bench, and you never got the sense he was anything but a really valuable member of the team, even in street clothes. And it can't be an act; he goes nuts whenever someone makes a great play, especially if it's Nolan.
If he doesn't play another game this year, and gets drafted this summer, I'll still consider his Duke career worthwhile. He's just a good dude, and a big recruiting coup for the school. Coach K wouldn't know a good big man if he fell face first into Wilt Chamberlain's crotch, but the man can find guards.
Okay. Let's take a look at the positional match-ups between Duke and UNC. Please keep in mind that:
-Since its inception, the sport of basketball is played 5 on 5, not in a weird series of 1 on 1 games.
-Therefore, this kind of analysis is slightly useless.
-But it's still guaranteed to pick a winner.
Nolan Smith, the Grinning Cure.
Kendall Marshall, "El Gran Caballo"
Edge: Nolan Smith
Seth Curry, the Slick Koala
Dexter Strickland, "Asshole"
Edge: Seth Curry
The Taller, Better Shooting Guards
Kyle Singler, Boom Radley
Harrison Barnes, "Bonnie Prince Harry"
The Bigs, #1
Miles Plumlee, Uncle Doofus
Tyler Zeller, "Ole Indiana"
Edge: Miles Plumlee
The Bigger Bigs
Mason Plumlee, King Cauliflower
John Henson, "Drew Henson" or "Jim Henson"
Edge: Mason Plumlee
Coach K, The Insinuator
Roy Williams, "HardyHardyHarHar"
Edge: Coach K
And there you have it: Duke has the edge at all 5 positions and coach. And that's not even counting our bench, with Young Threezy and The 'Munk (Thornton) and The White Raven. This game is going to be a blow-out. 312-5. See you tomorrow for an actual preview.