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Rankings & Polls | Message Board  | Kevin McNeill Archive

By Kevin McNeill

February 7, 2006

Duke - UNC: The Rivalry Continues

The greatest rivalry in college sports is renewed once again as the #2 Duke Blue Devils travel to Chapel Hill to take on #23 North Carolina.


What makes it such a great rivalry? Well, you have to have two storied programs, with a combined 27 Final Fours and 7 national titles.  There are Hall of Fame coaches, legions of great players – some of the greatest in basketball history.  There are thrilling, nail-biting games between the two that seems to happen on an annual basis.  But there’s one other reason that this rivalry towers above all others:


These guys really hate each other.


There was Coach Dean Smith, who responded to Duke fans holding up signs proclaiming “J.R. can’t Reid”, by announcing the less-than stellar SAT scores of a couple of Duke players – something that was not thought to be public information. 


There was that epic game in 1984, when Coach Smith tried to sound the horn himself after not being allowed to make a substitution.  Except he pushed the wrong button, giving North Carolina an extra twenty points on the scoreboard.  Smith never received a technical for his actions, and UNC went on to win – which led Coach K to make his infamous “double standard” remark after the game. 


Over the years, Duke (or “Dook”) and Carolina fans would fight over everything from beer ads, the cleverness of the Cameron Crazies, “wine and cheese” crowds at the Dean Dome, academics, parties and everything in between. 


Just the other night, several football players from Duke and UNC were arrested for their role in a bar brawl.  Want to venture a guess as to what they were fighting about?


Throw in some all-time classic games, and you know that this is a game not to be missed. 


The amazing 8-0 comeback with 17 seconds on the clock in 1974.  The ACC Tournament semifinals in 1984, where Coach K exacted revenge on Dean Smith’s unique scoring method, as well as a team with names like Jordan, Daugherty, and Perkins.  A bloody Eric Montross carrying his team to victory in 1992.


There was the ultimate “throw-out-the-record books” game in 1995, when a Coach K-less Duke team (due to back surgery) that was 0-7 in the ACC took the second-ranked Tar Heels to double-overtime in a 102-100 thriller.


And of course, there were the home and home games last season, that were decided by a combined 3 points (the home teams each won one). 


North Carolina leads the series 124-95, but Duke has won 15 of the last 18 contests, including 5 of the past 7 at the Dean Dome. 


Whether or not Coach K will make it 6 of 8 remains to be seen.  But the college basketball world will be watching to find out.


Kevin McNeill's Poll Position is a new weekly feature on CHN.





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