Tag Archives: Duke-UNC rivalry

Gameday is upon us! Random chatter on Duke-Carolina

It's gameday for Duke at North Carolina and if one lives in the Triangle area almost everywhere you go or look, somebody is wearing a shade of blue.  When the Blue Devils and Tar Heels come together, it's as if time stops until games end and once that happens one fanbase is extremely elated while the other deals with a tough couple of days.

Whether one walks into a convenience store, sits down to eat in a restaurant, works out in a gym, takes the kids to kindergarten, somebody is likely to ask you with often times a southern drawl, "Who you got tonight?" followed by a little smack talk as they bait you into conversation.  Some fans even worry themselves into a frenzy making one wonder if their should be a new addition to the DSMV manual.  Work productivity goes way down and sports bars make a killing.

Fans gather in droves to watch the game in a mix of both dark and light blue.  Others couldn't watch a game with the other side if they had to.  Many will put on their lucky charms and colors, some will go through rituals.  You can almost hear the pacing in households afar once the game starts and all hang on every single play, every call and ride a roller coaster of emotion that leaves them drenched in sweat from the stress by nights end. 

A bit later, I will meet with a co worker to eat and then head to Chapel Hill to the Dean Dome which is mere minutes from Duke University where car flags will be a flapping and the color goes to a lighter hue as you approach.  Once checked in, it's off to the media area for me, setting up a good two hours in advance and then talking with the throng of reporters from both far and near as the teams begin to warm up in the background.  And while the media cannot cheer on press row and must remain professional and objectionable, you can read their faces and clearly see who they're for and trust me, eveybody has a dog in this race if you are local media. 

Anyhow, here are a bunch of random thoughts going into tonight's game -

UNC favored by 6 points

When the line came out it caused several folks to raise an eyebrow.  Every single media person I have spoken to this week thinks UNC will win this game easily and or that the line is too low.  Many feel they'll go double digits on Duke and never look back and local bookies have added points to that total to try and keep money coming in on Duke.  I in no way advocate betting and only speak of this for entertainment purposes and trust me gambling has a dark side, so beware.  And while I am at it, if you are goaded into a sucker bet by the opposing fans and friends, it's your own fault.  If you want to take the chance of wearing the other teams colors for a week at work, go right ahead;)

Numbers, stats and more numbers

Everywhere you look there are people throwing out numbers and they prove to be quite interesting.  Duke has won 20 of the last 30 against UNC, Duke is even at the Dean Dome ... so on.  The truth of the matter though, is that when these two teams get together, you can throw conventional wisdom out the window.  But while I seem to be making fun of the numbers, I still read them and here is a must read article from my friend, Al Featherston at Duke Basketball Report that is well worth your time.

The biggest advantage for UNC is ...

It is not their front court of Barnes, Henson and Zeller.  It is not Kendall Marshall, the league leader in assists.  It is their experience.   The aforementioned front line all returned for UNC when all of them could have gone in the first round in the NBA draft.  These guys are battle tested now and for the most part the Tar Heels are an old team.   The Tar Heels fast break finishes a close second in my book and Duke must control the glass enough against the leagues best rebounding team to win.

Who is ready to step up for Duke?

Is there a Fred Lind or Reggie Love in the group?  Lind, then a bench warmer, went off against UNC in the sixties and has become a legend for his performance when Duke starting center Mike Lewis fouled out.  Love, a former Barrack Obama aide was a walk on from the football team that filled in when Duke had injuries to Carlos Boozer, outplaying his UNC opponent which helped Duke close out the Heels in their backyard.  For Duke to win tonight, it will likely take a player or players stepping up their game to a beyond normal level.

The last time out ...

Duke rocked UNC at the ACC Tournament and proceeded to cut the nets.  But that team had Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith.  Nolan scored 20 plus points in that game and dished out 10 assists.  This years Duke team is averaging just under 13 assists per contest combined.  Again, I point to experience and you can bet they'll miss those dimes and Smittys' on ball defense.  Remembering that loss could serve a a plus side intangible for the Tar Heels, who will be hell bent on revenge.

Plumlees have had success

Duke will need to hit the boards as a team tonight but I feel many are underestimating the abilities of Team Plumlee.  Both Mason and Miles have had success against the UNC front court but that help side defense from Singler is missing and Kelly and others will have to fill that role.  The key for Duke will be to keep Mason out of early foul trouble and to adjust as a team to the way the game will be called.

Young Devils will need to step up

This will be Austin Rivers first trip to Chapel Hill and freshman past, not matter how good they are have taken a beating at times in this series.  Rivers will be a focal point for the Tar Heels defense and seeing if he can rise past that attention will be interesting.  Quinn Cook will also need to be calm cool and collected and that will not be easy in a hostile environment.  Here is ESPN on how freshman will play key roles in the game.

A Duke loss will add pressure to the team

If Duke loses to UNC this evening and Florida State and N.C. State win along with Miami and Virginia which is all likely to happen, the Blue Devils will find themselves in a three way tie for 4th place in the ACC.  That in turn will make my job hard as much of the fan base will freak out on the message boards and quite frankly I do not look forward to that happening.  So, be forewarned that this loss could be devastating but keep your composure please and be a good and supportive fan.  Also, Duke would then face an N.C State team in Cameron this weekend that is a half game ahead in the standings.  Funny how big that game has suddenly become and getting that 20th win can get harder and harder until a victory is achieved.


Nice shirt there, Harrison! BDN Photo

That darn Harry guy ...

Harrison Barnes spurned Duke at the midnight hour and then chose UNC but he didn't exactly do it in what many would consider proper decorum.  His clunky Skype lives as a reminder to other stars not to go that route and few have done so since that time.  Interestingly, Barnes immediately starting loathing Duke after his decision and he is perhaps one of the more detested Tar Heels for Blue Devil fans.  But Barnes leads his team in scoring and the talk in media rooms is if the Tar Heels will get four players on first team All ACC.  Barnes is a huge matchup problem for Duke and any other team and he took a mild shot over the bow as he mentioned that Kyle Singler was gone and that he'd gladly take shorter players to the rack.

On paper it looks like a UNC win

Everything points to a UNC victory in paper.  Duke has lost two of their last three conference games in Cameron and Krzyzewski has been looking for upper classmen to step up.  UNC has up to four 1st team All ACC players starting. That game is in Chapel Hill and the Blue Devils seem to still be coming together as a team.  But you know what?  Duke has a chance any time they step on the court.  Duke has been beat down of late but if the team plays together anything can happen and that's why we watch the games.  My objectionable pick would be for the Tar Heels to win but my heart says Duke can pull off a shocker and make all the aforementioned worries go to the wayside.

Don't hold me to all the numbers mentioned for everything here was off the top of my head and just random thoughts before tonight's game.  BDN will be in the house to bring you live tweets and post game chats with the players, so stay tuned for our usual wall to wall coverage.  And yes, I am homer media, so I can get away with saying, "GTHC, GTH!"  It should be a lot of fun as the best rivalry in all sports is once again upon us.



Duke at North Carolina Game Notes

• Game 24 •

[10 AP / 9 Coaches] Duke (19-4, 6-2) vs. [5 AP / 5 Coaches] North Carolina (20-3, 7-1)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 • 9:00 p.m. • ESPN/ACC Network

The Opening Tip

• Duke (19-4, 6-2) faces North Carolina (20-3, 7-1) on Wednesday, Feb. 8 in Chapel Hill. Tipoff is set for 9:00 p.m.

• Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Dick Vitale (analyst), Jay Bilas (analyst) and Erin Andrews (sideline) will call the game for ESPN.

• Tim Brando (play-by-play) and Dan Bonner (analyst) will call the game locally for the ACC Network.

• Duke is ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll and No. 9 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. North Carolina is ranked No. 5 in both polls. Duke is 36-13 when ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll.

• Wednesday’s game marks the 32nd time in the last 65 meetings, both Duke and North Carolina have been ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll.

Duke-North Carolina Series

• Duke and North Carolina have met 232 times heading into Wednesday’s game with the first meeting between the two schools coming on Jan. 24, 1920.

• Mike Krzyzewski is 36-36 all-time against North Carolina, with an 11-14 mark at the Dean E. Smith Center. Krzyzewski did not coach either game against North Carolina during the 1994-95 season.

• Duke has won four of the last five in the series, including a 75-58 win over North Carolina in the 2011 ACC Championship game, the last meeting between the two schools.

• Duke has won 21 of the last 31 games in the series dating back to the 1998-99 season. The Blue Devils have won eight of the last 13 games in Chapel Hill in that span.

Numbers Game

l Duke has been ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll for 88 straight weeks, the third-longest streak in NCAA history.

l Duke has not lost back-to-back games since February of 2009. The Blue Devils are 14-0 following a loss in that span (does not include season-ending loss in 2010-11).

l The Blue Devils have a +14.6 scoring margin in their last 14 games following a loss. Duke has posted a double-figure win in 10 of the 14 contests.

l Duke is one win shy of reaching the 20-win plateau for the 16th consecutive season. The Blue Devils have won 20 or more games 26 times under Mike Krzyzewski.

l When coming off a loss this season, Duke averages 80.7 points per game. Mason Plumlee averages a double-double at 15.3 points and 10.0 rebounds in those three contests, while Ryan Kelly (14.3 points) and Austin Rivers (11.7 points) both average double-figures when coming off a loss.

l Austin Rivers was named ACC Rookie of the Week for the league-leading sixth time on Monday. He ties former Blue Devil Luol Deng for the most ACC rookie awards in Duke history and ties five others for the third-most in ACC history.

l Mason Plumlee is one of two players (joined by Keith Clanton, Central Florida) in the NCAA averaging at least 10.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 blocks per game.

l Ryan Kelly has increased his scoring average by 6.0 ppg. from a year ago and is tied for second on the team at 12.6 points per game. Kelly has scored in double figures 15 times this season after doing that just nine times in his first two seasons.

l Seth Curry averaged 17.7 points in three games against North Carolina last season. He topped the 20-point mark twice against the Tar Heels and was 11-of-21 (.524) from three-point range in the three contests.

l Mason Plumlee ranks second in the ACC in rebounding at 9.7 rpg. He has grabbed 12 or more rebounds 10 times this season including three of the last four games.

l Austin Rivers ranks 12th among freshman in scoring with a team-high 14.5 points per game. Johnny Dawkins was the last Blue Devil freshman to lead the team in scoring in 1983.

l Mason Plumlee has improved his free throw shooting over the last four games, going 24-of-32 (.750) from the line during that span. He was shooting 39.8 percent (37-of-93) from the free throw line prior to that stretch. Plumlee ranks fourth in the ACC in free throw attempts per game (5.4 ftpg.).

l Andre Dawkins is averaging 10.8 points and 2.6 three-point field goals per game in ACC play. He is 21-of-49 (.429) from long range in league games.

More on the Series vs. North Carolina

• Duke and North Carolina have met 74 times during the Coach K era. The Blue Devils are 36-36 versus the Tar Heels with Mike Krzyzewski as the head coach. Krzyzewski missed both games against North Carolina during the 1994-95 season while recovering from back surgery.

• Wednesday’s game marks the 149th straight meeting between Duke and North Carolina in which at least one of the schools is ranked in a national poll. The streak dates back to Feb. 25, 1955.

• Since the beginning of the AP poll in 1948-49, at least one of the teams has been ranked in 152 of the 168 meetings (counting Wednesday’s game).

• This is the 133rd straight game with at least one team ranked in the AP poll. That streak dates back to Feb. 27, 1960. Of those 133 games, 121 of the games have featured a team in the top 10.

• In 32 of the last 65 meetings, both Duke and North Carolina have been ranked in the top 10.

• Both teams have been ranked in the top 25 in 50 of the 74 meetings under Coach K. Both teams have been ranked in 50 of the last 66 meetings.

• Duke and North Carolina have played 69 times all-time when both teams were ranked in the top 25. Duke is 34-35 in those games, including a 27-22 mark under Coach K.

• The Blue Devils and Tar Heels have met 42 times with both teams ranked in the top 10. The series is tied 21-21, including a 15-16 record under Mike Krzyzewski, when both teams are ranked in the top 10.

• The two teams have played 10 times when both teams were ranked in the top-five of the AP poll.

• The Duke-North Carolina game has been decided by 10 points or less in 38 of the 74 meetings under Coach K.

• In 12 of the last 46 meetings between the two schools, Duke has entered the game as the nation’s top-ranked team. Duke is 7-5 in those contests. Overall, Duke has played 17 times (10-7) as the No. 1 team against North Carolina, including 14 times (8-6) under Coach K.

• During the Coach K era, Duke and North Carolina have played five overtime games (Duke, 3-2), including one double-overtime (North Carolina, 1-0) contest.

• At least one team has been ranked in 150 of the 153 meetings since the ACC was formed in 1953-54.

• Sports Illustrated on Campus named the Duke-UNC rivalry the No. 1 “Hottest Rivalry” in college basketball and the No. 2 rivalry overall in its Nov. 18, 2003 issue.

• Duke and North Carolina have accounted for 36 of the 58 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Championships. Duke has an ACC-best 18 conference championships, including 13 ACC titles under Mike Krzyzewski.

• Either Duke or North Carolina has played in the NCAA Final Four in 22 of the last 31 years.

North Carolina at Duke Game Notes

Game 24 [5 AP / 5 Coaches] Duke (21-2, 8-1 ACC) vs. [20 AP / 21 Coaches] North Carolina (17-5, 7-1 ACC) Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011 • 9:00 p.m.

The Opening Tip

 Duke (21-2, 8-1 ACC) faces North Carolina (17-5, 7-1 ACC) on Wednesday, Feb. 9 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tipoff is set for 9:00 p.m.

 • The game is being televised locally by the ACC Network with Tim Brando (play-by-play) and Mike Gminski (analyst) calling the action.

• The game is being televised nationally by ESPN with Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Dick Vitale (analyst) and Erin Andrews (sideline) calling the action.

 • Duke is ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, while North Carolina is 20th in the AP Poll and 21st in the Coaches Poll.

 • Duke has won 39 of the last 42 games entering Wednesday’s game with North Carolina. The Blue Devils have won 12 of 13 contests against ACC opponents in that span.

• Wednesday’s game will be for one point in the Battle of the Blues presented by Continental Tire. The Battle of the Blues is a season series between Duke and North Carolina with the winner presented the Continental Tire Cup as champion. UNC currently leads 8-2. Duke-North Carolina Series History

• Wednesday’s game marks the 230th meeting in the all-time series. • The Blue Devils are 39-34 against North Carolina at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

• Duke has won 19 of the last 28 games dating back to the 1998-99 season. • Mike Krzyzewski is 34-35 all-time against North Carolina. Duke is 15-13 at Cameron Indoor Stadium with Coach K on the bench.

 • Wednesday’s game marks the 130th straight game with at least one team ranked in the AP poll. That streak dates back to Feb. 27, 1960. Of those 130 games, 118 of the games have featured a team in the top 10.

• Duke won both meetings last season, including an 82-50 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 5, 2010.

Numbers Game

The Blue Devils’ current 32-game win streak at Cameron Indoor Stadium is the longest active streak in the country and the fourth-longest home win streak in program history

Duke has only lost two home games in the past four seasons, posting a record of 61-2 in Cameron Indoor Stadium during that span. The Blue Devils have won 15 straight home games against ACC opponents.

The Blue Devils have had at least one player score 20 or more points in 18 straight games. Duke has had two players top the 20-point mark eight times this season.

Duke has won 26 consecutive games in the state of North Carolina. The Blue Devils’ last loss in the state was at N.C. State on Jan. 20, 2010. l Nolan Smith is attempting to become the first player in ACC history to lead the league in scoring and assists. Smith is currently averaging 21.0 points and 5.6 assists per game. He is one of four players in the NCAA averaging over 20.0 points and 5.0 assists per game

Mason Plumlee has raised his rebound average an ACC-best 5.7 rebounds per game from a year ago. He ranks fourth in the ACC in rebounding at 8.8 rpg. and has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in eight of nine ACC contests.

 Kyle Singler has scored in double figures in an ACC-best 21 straight games. Singler has scored 10 or more points in 117 of his 134 career games. He has reached double figures in 53 of 57 ACC regular season games. Singler is 35 points shy of 1,000 career points in ACC regular season play. l Duke leads the NCAA with a +20.0 points per game scoring margin. The Blue Devils have won 11 games by 20 or more points this season, including six wins by 30+ points.

BDN Previews- North Carolina at Duke and picks the Blue Devils in an upset

Duke expects the two senior tight ends known as the "Bro's" to return for the home and career finaled against UNC - BDN Photo

It's the final week of the 2010 football season, as the Blue Devils (3-8, 1-6 ACC) host the rival North Carolina Tar Heels (6-5, 3-4 ACC) in Wallace Wade Stadium. The game will kickoff at 3:30 PM ET and will be televised on ESPNU. Tickets for the rivalry game are still available from


GoDuke.com, as the Blue Devils try to reclaim the Victory Bell for just the second time in the last 20 tries. 


Duke fell at Georgia Tech last Saturday, 30-20, in what Coach Cutcliffe called “a tough pill to swallow.” The Blue Devils' defense held the Yellow Jackets out of the end zone for the entire first half, taking a 13-6 lead into the locker room. In the second half, the momentum quickly turned towards Georgia Tech after Brandon Connette threw a red zone interception, which was returned 85 yards for the touchdown and a 16-13 lead. The Blue Devils fought back in the 4th quarter, as Sean Renfree found Austin Kelly on a play action pass for a 37-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 23-20, but it was not enough. The Yellow Jackets' option offense wore down the Duke defense and sealed the victory. On the day, the Duke defense allowed 320 rushing yard to the #1 rushing offense in the country, which was led by Anthony Allen and Tevin Washington. For the Blue Devils, Renfree threw for another 300+ yard game in the loss, including 92 yards to Cooper Helfet and 7 catches each for Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner. 


If the Blue Devils' loss last week was tough to swallow, North Carolina's was devastating. The Tar Heels hosted rival NC State last Saturday and fell, 29-25. North Carolina jumped out to a 7-0 first quarter lead, which they extended to a 19-10 lead by late in the 3rd quarter. At that point, the game went an unexpected and almost instantaneous reversal of momentum, as Russell Wilson and the Wolfpack scored 17 unanswered points to close the 3rd quarter and start the 4th. The first score was the most unlikely, as Wilson threw a jump ball on 4th and goal to a crowd in the back corner of the end zone, which somehow fell into the hands of TE Owen Spencer for the touchdown. After forcing a quick punt, explosive returner T.J. Graham took the punt return 87 yards for the score and a 24-19 lead. The Wolfpack would add on a FG and a last-minute safety to seal the 29-25 victory. Seniors T.J Yates and Anthony Elzy led the way for the Tar Heels in the loss, as Yates threw for over 400 yards, including 178 and a touchdown to Elzy. 



Both teams find themselves in the red in the turnover margin for the season. Turnovers have haunted the Blue Devils throughout 2010, while North Carolina has given it away 7 times in their last two games. Last week, Duke saw firsthand how a key turnover can propel a team to victory. Without leading fumble recovery man Kelby Brown, the Duke defense will have to find other players to step up with takeaways.  

Explosive Plays

Without crunching all the numbers, let's just say in last week's games, both teams were on the losing side of key explosive plays. Georgia Tech scored three touchdowns, two of which were explosive plays: an 85-yard interception return and a 79-yard catch. In the Tar Heel's last game, the decisive play was a T.J. Graham 87-yard punt return for a touchdown, which gave the Wolfpack the lead for good. With 2 of the ACC's top 3 quarterbacks, both teams have the ability to rack up explosive plays on the opposing defense. Renfree will have to get things going with Vernon, Varner, Kelly, and Helfet early and often, while the Duke secondary will have to contain Yates and his receivers, led by the trio of Dwight Jones, Anthony Elzy, and Erik Highsmith. 


Sacks haven't had a huge influence on the Blue Devils' games this year, as Duke has been very good at protecting Sean Renfree, while the Duke defensive front has struggled to bring pressure. Conversely, the Tar Heels rank last in the ACC in sacks allowed, as Yates has found himself on the ground an average of 3 times per game, including 7 times last Saturday. UNC's defense has failed to bring the pressure it did a year ago, when they ranked second in the ACC in sacks per game. 

3rd Down Production

Would you be surprised to learn that the struggling Duke defense has done a better job on opponent 3rd downs than their rivals in Columbia blue? It's true, and the Blue Devils' offense has also done a better job converting on 3rd downs. On paper, advantage Duke. 

Rushing TDs

Would you also be surprised to know that as of last week, North Carolina has surpassed Duke as the ACC's worst rushing offense? The Blue Devils' have Nate Irving and the NC State defense to thank for that. After a season-ending injury to Johnny White, the Blue Devils will have to focus their defensive efforts on Anthony Elzy and Shaun Draughn in the North Carolina backfield. In last week's preview, we stressed the importance of the Blue Devils' scoring on the ground. The Tar Heels have only allowed 9 rushing touchdowns this year, but Brandon Connette and the Blue Devils' backs will have to find ways to convert in the red zone for Duke to shed its two-game losing streak. 

Field Goals

Will Snyderwine had been nearly automatic in 2010, but missed two late FGs in Atlanta last week. Expect the Blue Devils' kicker to have a bounceback game in the season finale. Casey Barth has been equally good for the Tar Heels, and the team that does a better job of putting the ball in the end zone, rather than through the uprights, is most likely to win this one. 


Duke has done a nice job of minimizing penalties in 2010, though the few penalties they have committed have often been costly. Against Georgia Tech, the Blue Devils committed 6 penalties for a total of 50 yards, but several of those helped to extend Yellow Jacket drives. North Carolina's inability to follow the rules off the field has been well documented, but the Tar Heels have also committed an average of 7 penalties per game. They've improved this statistic in recent weeks, totaling just 70 yards in penalties their past two games. 


It is difficult to remain objective when it's Duke vs. North Carolina. The Tar Heels are admittedly exhausted: mentally, from having faced tough questions all season about their wrongdoings off the field; and physically, from playing shorthanded while not having a week off since their bye in week 2. In the back of some players' minds, the Tar Heels are just one game away from the end of this nightmare regular season. After an emotional loss to rival NC State on senior day, can the Tar Heels get back up for one more game? 

Meanwhile, the primary question that has haunted the Blue Devils in 2010 is “what if…?,”  as they've watched ACC games slip away against Wake Forest in week 2, Maryland in week 5, Boston College in week 11, and Georgia Tech in week 12. Can the Blue Devils breakthrough this week against the rival Tar Heels? If this year's senior class has its way, the Blue Devils will be ringing the Victory Bell into their offseason. 

Duke 27

UNC 26