North Carolina and Duke usually battle for the ACC lead and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. This year, both teams have struggled with inconsistency and are still hoping to get into position for a bid to the Big Dance.
“All these games are really important for us,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Carolina has a better record. I would think that they would be in the tournament – I would hope that what they’ve done so far would’ve earned that. If we’d won these two overtime games, we might be both in that situation, but we did not. I guess there’s something different for you guys to write about than the No. 1-seed and all that, but it’s still an extremely important game. A really important game. It is different.”
The pandemic has also had an impact on the game, along with the rest of the basketball season.
“You just take a look at the ACC standings and number of games played,” Coach K said. “Miami has played the most league games. I think Notre Dame and us are second when we play this game. No fault of anybody, but some have played 12, 13 – whatever it is. It’s just different. I’m hoping that everybody will be available to play in the ACC Tournament. I guess Virginia Tech, they’ve missed probably as many as anybody, maybe one less than Louisville. What will be their status for the tournament? We’re getting through it and we’re going to have an NCAA Tournament and that’s great, and then it’d be great to get back to the old days and have fans, have summer, have 31 games or so and do all those things. That’s my hope, but the game is big. There’s no question about it. We don’t minimize it in any way.”