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The Next Play: Here's what's on deck in Raleigh, Durham sports this week

The (Raleigh) News & Observer logo The (Raleigh) News & Observer 1/17/2022 Justin Pelletier, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

Jan. 16—The marquee matchup in women's hoops this week is a doozie, as No. 4 N.C. State makes the short hop to Durham to face No. 16 Duke. Both teams have just two losses this season, and each has lost once to No. 1 South Carolina.

Otherwise, Duke's lone blemish was a lopsided loss to Virginia Tech on the road (which it avenged Thursday night at home), while the Wolfpack's loss came to Georgia in overtime.

The Blue Devils have been a pleasant surprise in the ACC this season, their second under coach Kara Lawson, who was hired in 2020. A big win over then-ranked Iowa first gave people notice that Duke would be a team to contend with this season, and a win over Notre Dame since then has helped fuel the discussion.

Sunday's matchup will undoubtedly be the Blue Devils' biggest test since losing to USC. The Pack is No. 4 in the latest poll and ran over a young but ranked UNC squad on Jan. 6. It's clear that there are a few tiers in the women's Top 25, and N.C. State is on that top level. Duke, for now, is at least one step down, but a win over the Pack would go a long way toward fixing that perception.

The game tips off Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.

Test for the Tar Heels


Video: Duke vs. NC State Women's Basketball Highlights (2021-22) (ACC Digital Network)

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

As up-and-down as the UNC men have been this season, this week represents a pair of very big road games. The Heels will travel to Miami on Tuesday and Wake Forest on Saturday. The Hurricanes are among the top teams in the ACC so far this season and own a recent win over Duke, while the Demon Deacons also gave Duke a bit of trouble recently before the Blue Devils pulled away.

The Heels have been all over the map this season, falling by as many as 29 to Kentucky, but looking unbeatable against Boston College and Virginia. They are 3-1 in ACC play, though, which is a good spot to be in early on in the campaign.

But looming is Miami, which is 5-1 in the ACC and 13-4 overall, and an always-tough trip to Wake Forest.

Let's try that again

Last week saw yet another Carolina Hurricanes game go by the wayside due to COVID protocols, with the team's road game at Philadelphia scratched.

This week, the team is slated to play three games, two of them on the road. First up is a trip to Boston on Tuesday. The Bruins have been hot since the start of the new year with big wins over Tampa Bay, Washington and Montreal as they climbed back into the Northeast Division playoff picture. They've been busy, though, coming off a four-game week.

Next, the Canes will host the Rangers on Friday night before turning around for a Saturday night game against the New Jersey Devils in Newark.

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