Williamson was hurt in the opening minute of last month's loss to the Tar Heels, complete with the far-reaching freakish image of his left foot tearing through his shoe as he fell to the court.
Off the court, the Tar Heels and Blue Devils look to be mired in a completely different battle, but not one unlike others they've fought in the past.
After Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski expressed doubt on Friday that Williamson would be available for the game, the school announced Saturday morning that Williamson will be sidelined for a fifth consecutive game.
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No. 4 Duke caps the regular-season Saturday night in Chapel Hill with a top-five showdown at No. 3 North Carolina.
While UNC is hitting its stride, Duke could be much closer to hitting its own if Williamson came full circle and returned in the Tobacco Road rivalry game Saturday. Now a 4-star prospect and ranked No. 32 according to the 247Sports Composite, he's the No. 3 point guard in the 2021 class, and the top player in the state of North Carolina.
I haven't picked against the Blue Devils this season, why would I start on the final game of the regular season?
"Playing with not a full deck has been very hard", Krzyzewski said. "For the most part, I thought we competed".
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Krzyzewski admitted Williamson, projected as the possible No. 1 pick in the National Basketball Association draft in June, would have liked to have played one more game at Cameron.
"We'll put it out", Krzyzewski said.
At one point, Wake led by as many as 10, and it was only a pair of misses near the basket at the end that allowed Duke to escape with the win. But he said Williamson was coming off his "first really good workout" and was gaining "confidence in his movements". That would also secure the No. 1-seed in the ACC Tournament. You are going to play.' The kid is a victor.
Paul Pierce and Brian Windhorst discuss whether Zion Williamson will play for Duke in March while recovering from his knee injury.
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"He's so team-oriented", Krzyzewski said.