National media misses on Duke and UNC rivalry game

BY DON BEANE, News + Record Staff
Posted 2/14/20

For more than a week leading up to the first of two annual Duke and UNC rivalry games, the national media repeatedly downplayed the contest due to UNC entering the game on Saturday night in the Dean …

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National media misses on Duke and UNC rivalry game

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Posted

For more than a week leading up to the first of two annual Duke and UNC rivalry games, the national media repeatedly downplayed the contest due to UNC entering the game on Saturday night in the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill with a sub-par 10-12 record.

Since the Tar Heels entered with a losing record, certainly the contest would be a blow out with the No. 7-ranked Blue Devils winning in a landslide.

Dear national media, it’s called a rivalry game for a reason. And Duke and UNC in basketball is as crazy and unpredictable as any rivalry game in any sport. The result was one of the greatest games ever played between the two with one of the wildest and most improbable finishes you will ever see.

How much so? Well you had Duke and UNC fans on Facebook actually congratulating the other fan base on their efforts. Really think about that — Tar Heel and Blue Devil fans throwing out mutual admiration for the opposing fan base just minutes after one of the greatest finishes ever in the historic series.

Of course, the national talking heads jumped on board on Twitter and social media outlets declaring it one of the best games ever between the two different shades of blue. And it was.

It also shows just because a team is having a down year does not mean that a rivalry of this proportion means any less.

The UNC fans showed up in full force and were a real factor in the game. The simple fact that they were playing that darker shade of blue team from just seven miles away was enough for the students, alumni and just everyday fans alike to rally around their squad.

And the Tar Heels as a team played its best game of the season, and really should have won the game, leading throughout the contest including by 13 points with under four minutes to play.

Duke, well, they could have just folded and gave in, playing at the famed Dean Dome on a night which just didn’t seem to be theirs. So what did the favored Blue Devils do? They continued to battle and fight, and forced an improbable overtime period.

Even then, UNC appeared again headed for a victory, leading by five points with 20 ticks left on the clock.

The Tar Heels would fail to close out the win, however, as the Blue Devils tallied the final seven points of the game including the game-winner as time expired on a lay-in basket by Wendell Moore of an errant shot by teammate Tre Jones to seal the 98-96 overtime triumph.

The lesson learned for the national media is that never overlook a rivalry game, especially Duke and UNC in basketball. History says that this game is always unpredictable, regardless of which gym they are in and who is higher ranked. We will see if they learn from their mistakes when Duke and UNC meet in Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham in less than a month on Saturday, March 7.

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