Basketball

Duke or North Carolina?

Future Tar Heel and Blue Devil players make their predictions.

When No. 9 Duke heads eight miles down Tobacco Road to do battle with North Carolina at the Dean Dome in college basketball’s most storied rivalry Wednesday night, opinions on the victor, naturally, will abound.

That’s not limited to just fans and analysts – future Tar Heel and Blue Devil players have strong opinions too.

We caught up with every player from both schools’ 2014 recruiting classes and asked them to make predictions about the game.

Obviously, objectivity was not their strong suit, so we included the one uncommitted prospect near the top of both schools’ wish lists – Wesleyan Christian (High Point, N.C.) sophomore Harry Giles, the No. 3 player in the ESPN 25.

We also asked every signed player to give a scenario in which they could see the other team winning. That’s where things got, well, interesting.

The Duke Recruits

Tyus Jones, Apple Valley (Apple Valley, Minn.), PG

The winning team will be…

“Duke, of course. We’ll play solid D and we’ll come away with the win in the end. I’m thinking 76-68.”

UNC wins if…

“Theo (Pinson) suits up for them at the game and hits that same game-winner that Austin Rivers made a few years back. I know that he can make it because when me, him and Jahlil (Okafor) were on a visit there a few years back, before he was committed, Theo was practicing it and he made it a bunch of times. He really liked that shot.”

MORE: Jones, Okafor commit to Duke

Jahlil Okafor, Whitney Young (Chicago), C

The winning team will be…

“No question, Duke. First of all we have way too much firepower with Bari (Parker), (Rodney) Hood, Sheed (Sulaimon) and Quinn (Cook) just to name a few. It’s in their gym so that helps them, but at the end of the day it’s not about what they do, it’s about what we do and how we play. I’ve got us by 15. Close all game, but we’ll pull away toward the end.”

UNC wins if…

“Coach K makes us forfeit in one of his many genius plans to motivate us to win the national championship down the road. Oh, and if Mike (Jordan) suits up and plays. He’s not bad.”

MORE: The Tyus Jones Blog

Grayson Allen, Providence School (Jacksonville, Fla.), SG

The winning team will be…

“Duke by 15; I would say 25 if the game was at Cameron. I think the offense is really starting to click, and I don’t see them having any problem slowing down UNC’s offense.”

UNC wins if…

“The refs are UNC alums.”

Justise Winslow, Saint John’s (Houston), SF

The winning team will be…

“Duke, without a doubt. 70-54. (Rodney) Hood and Rasheed (Sulaimon) are gonna be just too much for them. Those are the guys they won’t be able to contain.”

UNC wins if…

“Coach Capel, Coach Wojo, Coach Nate, Mrs. Krzyzewski and Jay Williams start for Duke. Also, Coach K’s dog, Blue, has to dress up as the Tar Heel mascot. Then, they’ve got a chance.”

The North Carolina Recruits

Theo Pinson, Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.), SF

The winning team will be…

“Definitely, North Carolina. I think we win by seven. Our length and size will bother them, and we’ll win on the offensive glass too. We’ve got this.”

Duke wins if…

“I switch my commitment and commit there before the game then suit up a whole year early and play for them. As long as I suit up for Duke then they’ll win. Good luck with that!”

Joel Berry, Lake Highland Prep (Orlando), PG

The winning team will be…

“North Carolina! We will win by 10! Duke has a lot of great players and it will be a competitive game, but of course I have to say we will win. They might have a lot of talent, but we have talent too and the game will be so hyped up on Duke and its players and that will make us come out hungry and get the win.”

Duke wins if…

“I take the night off, go camp out in front of that little high school gym Duke has and stand in the crowd like one of those Cameron Crazy people.”

Justin Jackson, HCYA (Houston), SF

The winning team will be…

“I’ve gotta go with UNC! I’d say 69-64. UNC is starting to click and this would be a perfect game to keep it going. Plus, when UNC and Duke play the records and rankings go out the window because of how great a rivalry it is.”

Duke wins if…

“The whole UNC roster comes down with a 24-hour flu.”

MORE: Harry Giles is focused on a comeback

The Objective Perspective

Harry Giles, Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.), F

The winning team will be…

UNC in this one. They have home court advantage and they play better at home against better teams. I do think Duke will win at Duke though.

Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY

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Duke or North Carolina?
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