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Duke vs UNC

The ongoing rivalry between two ACC basketball powerhouses

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There's no other rivalry like Duke/Carolina

  • Feb 23, 2010
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Despite my stint in New England during my college years, I've been a huge fan of ACC basketball, but specifically the Duke/Carolina rivalry.  I circled the dates on the calendar every year to make sure my schedule was clear to watch the games on TV.  This year, however, I flew out to North Carolina to experience my first Duke/Carolina game in person at the Dean Dome.  Despite the uncharacteristic losing season by UNC this year, the game exceeded my expectations.  What makes this rivalry better than all the others?


7 miles.  That's how far the campuses are to one another.  They are so close, that I managed to catch a 1pm game at Duke and then drive over to UNC for a 4pm game on the same day.  On the day of The Game, you can tune your radio to either the Duke or UNC radio broadcast, depending on the shade of blue blood that runs through your veins.  Duke and North Carolina loyalists shop at the same grocery stores, go to the same churches, even live in the same family.  The rivalry echos back to when brothers fought one another during the Civil War.  Due to this close proximity, bragging rights are long lasting.  Even the newspapers from each campus wage a bet on the game.  The losing school's paper changes the masthead on their paper to winning team's colors.  You get the feeling that the impact from a loss doesn't affect just the players, but the entire student body shares in the misery. 


Duke and UNC are both nationally recognized basketball powerhouses and they are consistently ranked among the top 10.  On at least three occasions, the teams have met as #1 vs #2 in the country.  Both schools have produced multiple National Championships and NBA All-Stars.  Sure, Penn vs. Princeton was always a hotly contested matchup in the Ivy Leagues, but without the national recognition and ranking, it just can't compare.


Back to the game itself.  The game I was at was louder than any basketball game I'd ever been to, and this was an "off year" for UNC.  Despite the disparity in the rankings, UNC played Duke close through most of the entire game.  Another thing which makes this rivalry so special is that the rankings mean little in regards to the outcome of the game.  Some of the greatest games in the rivalry have been during years where one team had been struggling during the season, but still managed a incredible upset over the top ranked opponent.  In addition to the several close games that ended during regulation, the two teams have gone into overtime 10 times.  

Essentially, there's nothing like the Duke vs UNC rivalry and watching the games on television doesn't come close to illustrating how intense this rivalry is.  Any true basketball fans should do themselves a favor and find a way to get to at least one of these incredible games.

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Andrew ()
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Duke University and the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) are historically two of the most successful Division I college basketball teams in the country.  The universites are 7 miles apart from each other and they compete against each other in the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Due to the consistent success of both teams, the conference matchups are highly anticipated every year.
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