I watched the entire game between Duke and UNC tonight and going in I figured the key to the game was how UNC was going to defend Duke's spread offense. Without Ty Lawson, I figured UNC's fast break would be less effective so in order for UNC to win, they would have to find a way to stop the potent spread offense of Duke.

Would they try hedging or trapping the ball-screens, play a pack style M2M? I really think Roy Williams wanted to play straight up M2M without help from the wing on dribble penetration. But without Lawson Duke broke down the UNC defenders forcing help from the perimeter and thus all the open 3-pointers that gave Duke the win.

Early in the first half, UNC actually did try to trap and hedge the ball screens, but Duke was prepared for it every time. When UNC decided to trap the PNR, Henderson would simply fake the screen and Paulus could find him on an easy score. Another time, they tried to hedge, but Paulus split the defenders down the middle for the score.

In the end, they stuck with help and recover and it just killed them. In hindsight, it probably would've been better to stay with straight M2M with no help from the wing and take your chances 1v1 with your guards against their guards.

Here are a couple of screenshots showing the UNC wing defenders caught helping and slow to recover,

You can't underestimate the impact of not having Ty Lawson had for the Tar Heels. Even if you put aside Lawson's tremendous ability to lead the country's best fast break, on defense, Lawson is one of the guys that is quick enough to stay with the quick Duke guards 1v1 without help from the wing and force them to put the ball on the floor and make a contested layup.

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