The historic rivalry between the University of North Carolina (UNC) and Duke University is a battle of basketball supremacy that has captivated fans for almost a century. These two college basketball powerhouses, located just eight miles apart along the Tobacco Road, have a storied history of competition and excellence in the sport.
UNC, with its establishment in 1789 as a public university, boasts an impressive basketball program that was established in 1910. The Tar Heels have won six national championships and made 21 Final Four appearances. On the other hand, Duke, a private university established in 1838, has claimed five national championships and made 17 Final Four appearances.
The rivalry between UNC and Duke extends beyond the basketball court. Both teams regularly face off in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), where they have a combined total of 91 conference championships. UNC has won 50 ACC championships, while Duke has claimed 41.
The first meeting between UNC and Duke took place on January 24, 1920, with UNC emerging victorious with a score of 38-25. Since then, the two teams have faced each other over 250 times, with UNC holding a 143-115 overall advantage.
Throughout the years, there have been numerous memorable matchups between these two bitter rivals. One such game was played on March 2, 1974, when UNC staged a remarkable comeback to win in overtime after trailing by eight points with only 17 seconds left on the clock. This stunning victory became known as the ‘eight points, 17 seconds’ comeback.
Another unforgettable game happened on March 10, 1984, when unranked Duke upset the No. 1 ranked UNC in the semifinals of the ACC tournament. Duke held onto their lead despite a late surge from UNC, securing a 77-75 victory.
On February 2, 1995, UNC and Duke engaged in a thrilling double-overtime showdown. Although UNC eventually came out on top with a 102-100 win, Duke’s Jeff Capel made a desperation shot from near the half-court line to force the game into double overtime, leaving a lasting memory in the rivalry’s history.
In recent years, the rivalry has remained as intense as ever. One notable game occurred on February 8, 2012, when Duke’s Austin Rivers drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give Duke an 85-84 victory over UNC. The shot instantly became one of the most iconic moments in the rivalry.
In 2022, the rivalry reached new heights as UNC and Duke faced each other in the NCAA tournament for the first time ever. UNC emerged victorious, defeating Duke 81-77 in the Final Four. This game marked the end of Coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s legendary career and solidified the Tar Heels’ dominance in this storied rivalry.
The UNC-Duke rivalry is not just a clash between two basketball teams—it’s a cultural phenomenon. The passion, intensity, and rich history surrounding this rivalry make it one of the greatest in all of sports.
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