There are many great rivalries in sports. No matter what sports you enjoy, it’s inevitable that you have a favorite rivalry that is likely linked to your team of choice. That’s okay; we all feel the same way. In the grand scheme of things, there are certainly a few rivalries that stand out as great but the one that sits on top of the podium is the Duke Blue Devils/North Carolina Tar Heels in men’s college basketball.
The Greatest Rivalry Of All Time
It’s hard to ignore some of the other legendary rivalries. The Toronto Maple Leafs/Montreal Canadiens is a classic; Los Angeles Lakers/Boston Celtics was another beauty for many years that still has fans of each team hating the other. Michigan Wolverines/Ohio State Buckeyes football is a big one that is still heated and the Seattle Seahawks/San Francisco 49ers is on the rise. But Duke/North Carolina is one that has stood the test of time and remains at the top of the list.
Duke and North Carolina are two of the most successful teams in NCAA men’s basketball history. The Tar Heels have five NCAA championships and the Blue Devils have four, sitting fourth and fifth all-time respectively. The two teams are regularly in the Top-25 rankings, have two of the most successful coaches in basketball history and the two campuses are only 10 miles apart.
Each team takes the trip down Tobacco Road once a season and the next meeting is quickly approaching – February 20th in Chapel Hill after weather prevented Duke from travelling to the Dean Smith Center on February 12th.
There are many interesting facts about this intense rivalry that solidify it as the greatest rivalry, if the above notes weren’t enough. The teams have met 236 times since their first meeting on January 24th, 1920. At least one of the teams has been ranked in each of the last 131 meetings, which will soon be 132 as Duke is currently ranked #8.
Duke has had the Tar Heels numbers since the turn of the century. In the 32 meetings since the year 2000, Duke has won 21. Despite that, UNC leads the all time series 132-104.
I first became a fan of college basketball in 2006 and had to endure the Tyler Hansbrough era of the Tar Heels that saw the Blue Devils lose six of eight meetings between 2006 and 2009 – all of those meetings saw both teams ranked in the Top-25.
My greatest moment of the rivalry happened on February 8, 2012. The Blue Devils were down by two-points in Chapel Hill and had the last shot. They inbounded the ball to Austin Rivers with six seconds left on the clock. He dribbled to the three-point line with Tyler Zeller guarding him. Rivers put up a perfect shot and all you heard was the beautiful sound of the swish as the buzzer went to end the game. It’s a moment I still go back and watch, one of my goose bump moments. If you haven’t seen the video, it’s a must watch for college basketball fans.
I was lucky enough to go on a tour of the Duke campus in Durham and I visited Krzyzewskiville located just outside of Cameron Outdoor Stadium. For those of you that don’t know, Krzyzewskiville a grassy area where students put up tents for tickets to specific games. The tents represent the lineup for the game deemed a “tent game.” The Duke/UNC game is always a tent game and tents begin going up in early January, sometimes the week between Christmas and New Years, for the game in MARCH!
It’s hard to ignore the fact that this rivalry is one of the greatest in sports. Not everyone may agree with my point of view that it’s the greatest and that’s okay. Everyone has their favorite rivalry. It’s just hard to argue against two of the greatest teams in college basketball history that play so often, for such a long period of time and are located so close together. If you don’t believe me, tune in to their next battle on February 20th.
Interested in writing for LWOS? We are looking for enthusiastic, talented writers to join our Basketball writing team. Visit our “Write for Us” page for very easy details in how you can get started today!