Ah the Duke game. Is there any other sporting event that gets you as hyped as this? This game, this rivalry, has provided more magic and excitement than arguably any other rivalry in sports history and it has been doing it consistently for 60+ years. From all the legends that have been a part of the game, the half court buzzer beaters, the fights on the floor and the implications that the game brought along with it make this a must see event every time. The next chapter will air Saturday night in the Dean Dome.
We all remember the last time that Duke came to Chapel Hill. They played seemingly uninspired basketball, for the most part, for about 35 minutes. The Tar Heels led the whole way and even on an Austin Rivers career night, the length inside and the play of Kendall Marshall was proving to be too much for Duke to overcome. Then disaster struck.
Carolina went cold from the floor and Duke took advantage. A phantom tip in by Tyler Zeller into the wrong basket off of an apparent no call on Mason Plumlee was just one example of how quickly the game was unraveling for North Carolina. Be that as it may, the Tar Heels still held a two point lead as the final seconds ticked down and on a miscommunicated play that left Rivers too much space, Carolina gave up a game winner and a victory that was an absolute thievery.
This time, UNC is back on their home floor as the team that isn’t supposed to win. Carolina almost took one away from Duke in Cameron Indoor a few weeks ago when the small lineup was first introduced. A few missed free throws down the stretch buried a Tar Heel team that again, led the game most of the way. With the crowd behind them that’s guaranteed to be unforgiving and loud, the Heels should do the little things right this time around.
While Ryan Kelly is back for Duke and they have yet to lose with him on the floor, he will still have to check a much quicker PJ Hairston and a smaller lineup in general that is without a doubt , playing their best basketball of the season and much improved since the last meeting these teams had.
Expect senior night in Chapel Hill to be an all-out slug fest as our beloved Tar Heels look to take back some momentum in the rivalry. A win would certainly catapult their seed in the big dance later this month and would shut any Tar Heels doubters up completely. A win would also be nice to deliver Andrew Wiggins who will be in attendance, but that’s another topic entirely.
Tune in at 9:00 PM for the game and at 8:00 for College Gameday. I’m getting more excited by the minute. Go Heels!