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Tobacco Road Twofer: Duke and UNC both Open the Season with Wins


(Rob Kinnan, USA TODAY Sports)

Ladies and gentlemen, it's finally upon us! The 2022-23 NCAA Basketball season is underway.


Every team in the top 25 was in action on Monday night including Duke and UNC and House of College Hoops was in the building covering both games!


Jacksonville @ Duke


Nothing in College Hoops matches Cameron Indoor Stadium's pageantry and John Scheyer's debut added an extra sprinkle of magic without a doubt.


The Blue Devils handled their business, routing the Jacksonville Dolphins 71-44. Aside from a brief drought in the middle of the first half where the Dolphins drew within 5, Duke controlled the game from start to finish and looked impressive despite still being without both Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively, arguably their two best players.


The Devils got out to an electric start, with Freshmen forward Mark Mitchell throwing down a thunderous alley-oop off a tremendous Tyrese Proctor feed. Mitchell, who finished as the leading scorer with 18, again looked like the most explosive player on the court throughout the game.


Although Mitchell led the scoring, Jeremy Roach was "the straw that stirs the drink" knocking down 4 three-pointers, including 3 in the first half alone, and adding 6 boards and 4 assists.


Kyle Filipowski struggled early on in his regular-season debut, missing his first 2 three-point attempts but came on strong and finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for his first career double-double.


Fellow Freshman Tyrese Proctor struggled for the entirety of this one, going 0-8 from the field and 0-4 from deep.


The players surprised Scheyer with a water bath celebration in honor of his first win in the locker room following the game.


Scheyer, who won a national title as a player with the Blue Devils, reflected after the game about what it meant to step on the floor for the first time officially as the Head Coach at Duke.


"I just took a moment before going out there. What an opportunity, what a moment. This is a place I've grown up in, playing, coaching, and to be here as a head coach, I was not going to be anywhere other than this moment right now. And hopefully, I can do that, going forward through the ups and downs. But for me tonight, that was my main focus.”


UNCW @ UNC

(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

Meanwhile, just up the road in Chapel Hill, the Tarheels of the University of North Carolina were also beginning their season, albeit with slightly different results.


Although Carolina managed to make it out of the Dean E. Smith Center with a W, the Seahawks of UNCW didn't go down without a fight, battling until the end to a score of 69-56.


The Heels spent most of the game looking more like the bubble team that slogged through 80% of last season than the team that finished the year in the title game and came into this season ranked number 1 in the nation.


With former coach Roy Williams in the building along with national championship-winning alumni Luke Maye and Joel Berry, the highly favored Tarheels struggled to knock down shots early in the game, starting a paltry 1-5 from the field and letting the Seahawks jump out to an 8-2 lead.


Caleb Love knocked down a three-pointer with 16:41 remaining in the first to kickstart the Carolina offense and spur a 10-0 run. Love struggled, however, through most of the first half going just 2-6 from the field and 1-3 from three.


Armando Bacot had a nice game finishing with 16 points and 9 rebounds but it wasn't quite the performance that is expected of a National Player of the Year contender.


Credit must be given to Takayo Siddle and his Seahawks squad as well. They never backed down and clearly came into this game expecting to compete rather than just trying to survive.


Takeaways


Many of us, including myself, were quick to jump on the Carolina bandwagon after the way they finished last season and with the talent they had returning. And while the season is still young (very) it's fair to wonder if recency bias caused an over-correction in how this squad is (and should be viewed). It will be interesting over the next few weeks to see if the Heels can perform up to the expectations of a top-ranked team or if we figure out that maybe they are a little closer to the rest of the pack in the ACC.


It's hard to judge Duke too much yet because of the level of competition but the fact that they were able to perform as well as they did despite being without two key pieces should be a confidence builder for hits team and the fanbase. Mark Mitchell was a highly touted recruit but is already far exceeding my expectations and may ultimately be the key to how far this time goes in the tournament. If he is able to show this performance wasn't a fluke and his trajectory continues upward don't be surprised to see Mitchell's name called in the top 5-10 picks of the 2023 NBA Draft.












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