Unforgotten Moments of North Carolina vs. Duke

Story posted February 26, 2013 in CommRadio, Sports by Dan Landers-Nolan

Ohio State versus Michigan. Alabama versus Auburn. Notre Dame versus USC. There are several long-standing and fierce rivalries in collegiate sports, but perhaps none so intense in college basketball than the bi-annual matchups between the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Separated by just nine miles, these ACC powers give basketball fans intense battles, regardless of season record. Let’s take a look back at just a handful of the key games and numbers that you may not know about.

The First: North Carolina and Duke first met on a basketball court on January 24, 1920. The Tar Heels emerged victorious 36-25. The interesting fact about this particular contest was that UNC did not actually face Duke, but instead Trinity College. Trinity became Duke University in 1924, according to the university website. The 83 years that have passed since that first meeting have given fans plenty to cheer about.

The Longest (Sort of): Even though it didn’t occur in a NCAA regular season game, students from North Carolina and Duke are in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest basketball game ever. In January 2006, the Tar Heels and Blue Devils took the court for 58 consecutive hours of basketball, breaking the previous record of 33 hours (set in Germany).

The Longest (NCAA this time): The only game to go to three overtimes in the series occurred in 1968. Junior guard Fred Lind, who had tallied only 12 points the entire season, scored 16 points and added nine rebounds in the 87-86 win for the Blue Devils.

The Numbers: Here are some interesting statistics involving these teams you may not be aware of:

  • Michael Jordan’s record against Duke: 6-1. The only loss for UNC in those three years occurred in the ACC Tournament.
  • Jay Bilas’ record against North Carolina: 3-5. The ESPN analyst scored 21 points in his final game against the Tar Heels, a 82-74 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The victory clinched Duke’s first ACC regular season title in 20 years.
  • Coaches with 800 career wins: Dean Smith (UNC), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke)
  • Largest margin of victory in rivalry: 37 points; North Carolina defeated Duke 55-18 in 1921. Duke’s biggest win came in 1964, when they thrashed the Tar Heels 104-69.
  • NBA Championships won by alumni since 1980: While North Carolina has had 14 players win 29 championships, Duke has only had one player in the last three decades (Danny Ferry in 2003) capture an NBA title. 

Although this year’s installment of the rivalry has lost some luster with the Tar Heels in rebuilding mode, March 2 will still have fans glued to the best rivalry on the collegiate hardwood.

Dan Landers-Nolan is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and secondary education. To contact him, email dsl5037@psu.edu.