When you think of Rivalries in college hoops, what is the first one to pop into your head?For many of us it would be Tobacco Road, also known as UNC vs Duke.
This rivalry has produced many great players over the years who have battled it out for their school. A few that come immediately to mind are Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Tyler Hansbrough, Sean May, and Raymond Felton for North Carolina. Duke is equally illustrious with the likes of Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley, JJ Redick, Gerald Henderson, and Ryan Kelly among the ranks of it’s graduates.
This year we will look to add in the likes of Joel Berry, Kennedy Meeks, Seventh Woods and Justin Jackson for UNC. However we also look to add in Luke Kennard, Jayson Tatum, Amile Jefferson, and the greatest love/hate villain since Laettner, Grayson Allen.
It is easily one of the most heated rivalries in sports. Most interested would remember the incident where Hansbrough went in for a layup and got elbowed in the nose, busting him open completely. You can see the incident in the videos I’ve attached below.
If you’ve seen it, there’s no way you have ever forgotten it.
The rivalry is named after the Tobacco Road- a stretch of 10 miles that seperates the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. 10 miles separates two teams that absolutely hate each other. 10 miles separates yearly national championship contenders with two of the greatest coaches in all of college basketball, and arguably all of basketball in general. Roy Williams (803-213) for UNC, and the winningest coach in NCAA history in Mike Krzyzewski (1060-326) for Duke. Both schools have produced 5 national championships, with a multitude of ACC regular season first place finishes with UNC having 30 and Duke having 19, which combined is nearly 78% of the possible first place finishes in conference history, as well as ACC Tournament championships with 37, Duke with the edge of 19 to North Carolina’s 18.
Both teams make the Final Four frequently as well. UNC is the team with the most final four appearances in 19, and Duke is the team with the fourth most trips to the final four with 16. They also are two of the winningest programs in NCAA basketball history, North Carolina being third and Duke being fourth. Both are also consistently top 10 teams every time a new season rolls around. North Carolina is winning the series overall with a record of 134-108. UNC won last years meeting.
As you all know though, a new year in sports can bring some really big surprises. I honestly expect both teams to add a win to their respective side this season. Coming into the season Duke was a heavy favorite to win it all, even being so young, but with injuries and tripping setbacks and even the absence of Coach K, their season has been a massive letdown to most Duke fans with bad losses and the lack of the ability to clutch out games when needed. However North Carolina’s season has been considered a letdown by many as well, with a couple bad losses dragging down the view off this season. Their youth meshes with their veterans in the perfect way, however, making them a threat to go beat anyone on any given day.
Hosting the first matchup of the season between
these two great teams is Duke, ranked 21st in the nation with a record of 17-5. After a bumpy start to ACC play, Duke seems to be coming alive at the right time with the small lineup interim coach Jeff Capel has put into play. The lineup gave the ability for Luke Kennard to shine and play his game, becoming a perennial threat for the Wooden Award (player of the year) in my opinion. North Carolina counters ranked 12th in the nation, with an outstanding record of 20-4. Roy Williams has really coached his team to the Williams UNC standard as of late, as a team that will consistently be a favorite to win because of pure talent, great coaching, and hard work. With all of this being said, with the February 9th meeting being the first of the season, and with the return of Coach K from back surgery in time to prep, I believe Duke will win this first one at home. Cameron Indoor will be rocking, and everyone will be excited for the return of Coach K, unless of course you are a UNC fan.
The struggles I see UNC facing are Coach K, how to contain Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen, and how to make Duke play UNC’s game.
The struggles for Duke I see are facing Roy Williams, Justin Jackson, and how to win the inside battle against a UNC team whose bigs are phenomenal and who have an experience and maybe even talent advantage of the Duke bigs.
With all of this said, clear your calendars. Next Thursday do yourself a favor and sit down and watch this game, you will not be disappointed. My prediction is Duke-79 UNC-72 THE CAMERON CRAZIES OFFER ENOUGH HOMECOURT ADVANTAGE AND DUKE WINS A HARD FOUGHT GAME WITH KENNARD AND TATUM STEPPING UP WHEN IT COUNTS.
You can see some of the biggest moments of the rivalry in the videos I’ve put below!
Have questions or comments? Drop them below or contact us via the website! We’ll be glad to respond. As always, your views and shares are appreciated!