UNC Duke: What It Means To Bleed Your Shade of Blue


Oh, to be a North Carolina or Duke fan these days.

You’ve had Wednesday’s date circled on the calendar since the tip-off to another college basketball season, and a March 7 date also has been duly noted.

There aren’t 50 shades of blue that Tar Heel and Blue Devil diehards are enamored with. Only two.

If you’re one of the faithful to two of the nation’s most illustrious programs, you know what a win over your arch-nemesis brings. That Carolina blue tint in the sky? It becomes a little more vivid.

For the Blue Devil brethren, the sky still contains its pale blue hue, but maybe streaks of a darker shade now peek through the pillowy clouds above.

Of course, for those actually bouncing the ball on the hardwood, the spotlight that beams down onto the two blue-bloods at least twice each winter will shine on a pair of programs looking to elbow their way up the ACC ladder and cement top-shelf seeding when the NCAA Tourney gets underway next month.

And for a North Carolina team looking to get its groove back, a victory in Durham on Wednesday night could be just the tourniquet needed to stop the bleeding — and hemorrhaging tumble-down the conference standings — that three setbacks in a four-game span has produced.

But for those donning that light blue hat or the darker-tinged sweatshirt, they know what emanates from a win in one of sports’ grandest duels. It’s the ultimate “We got ya” moment.

North Carolina and Duke aficionados understand what comes with the territory. There’s a begrudging respect for the villainous planet that roughly eight miles away revolves around the center of their college basketball universe. You can appreciate the scale of accomplishment put forth from the dark side, but you don’t have to like it.

That respect doesn’t diminish the jolt that comes with a gut-punching loss that functions as your bragging-rights beacon.

A Tar Heels triumph, or vice versa, means you’re salivating for the late-night SportsCenter broadcast. You know it will be the lead, and the highlights never get old.

The next day you sport your signature blue somewhere on your office attire, and you even find your appointment with that insurance rep really wasn’t so bad after all.

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Come up on the short end of the scoreboard, however, and the channel is immediately changed. Or maybe you just shut off the TV altogether. You still may dress in your preferred choice of blue — your loyalty hasn’t wavered — but you speed walk into your office and quickly shut the door.

You’re not ready for human contact just yet, so that meeting with the insurance ace? Cancelled.

Yes, that’s what comes with those of us who are so heavily invested in these Tobacco Road tussles. They have been marked by seemingly ordinary names of “Dean” and “Roy”, or the perceived innocuous letter ‘K’. But the showcase between the two backyard rivals usually is anything but pedestrian.

The wins collected by each throughout the course of a season are nice jewels to be pocketed. The ones with the diamond-like luster, though? Those come from slaying your most bitter foe.

May you be the one holding the sparkling gem Wednesday night or come March 7. And may you be the one smiling at a future SportsCenter broadcast.