History Shows UNC – Duke Rivalry One of the Best in Sports

College hoops rivals North Carolina and Duke resume their continual battle for Tobacco Road supremacy in Durham on Thursday, and figures to be another in the long line of historic battles between the two programs.

The coaches in this rivalry are some of the best of all-time.  UNC legend Dean Smith retired as the NCAA’s wins leader in 1997, while Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski currently is the all-time wins leader with 1061, and has led Duke to 5 national titles.  UNC’s Roy Williams was inducted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007, and has led the Tar Heels to National Championships in 2005 and 2009.

These great coaches have led some of the greatest players in league history into battle against one another, players that have become household names to basketball fans everywhere.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the classic games these two teams have had in the past:

March 2, 1974 – Trailing by 8 with only 17 seconds left UNC’s Walter Davis banked in a 40 foot jumper off the backboard to force overtime in a 96-92 Tar Heel victory they still talk about on Franklin Street.

March 10, 1984- Duke pulls off one of the ACC Tournament’s all-time shockers as the Blue Devils upset Carolina 77-75, as Johnny Dawkins led the way against some guy named Michael Jordan and the number-one ranked Heels.  This win served as one of the key victories in building the foundation for Coach K’s program.

February 2, 1995- UNC came rolling into Cameron Indoor Stadium led by the high-flying duo of Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse against a Duke squad without Coach K sitting winless at the bottom of the league.  Jeff Capel’s 40-foot buzzer-beater erased a 9-point deficit in 90 seconds and forced a second overtime.  Stackhouse and Wallace’s athleticism proved to be too much as UNC prevailed in double OT, 102-100.

February 28, 1998- Coach K picks up his 500th career victory as his number-one ranked Blue Devils overcame a 17-point second half deficit to shock Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter’s UNC squad 77-75.

March 4, 2006- Freshman forward Tyler Hansbrough drilled a late three-pointer from the top of the key to sink the Devils 83-76 on J.J. Reddick’s Senior Night at Cameron.  Hansbrough would go 4-0 for his career in Durham, and Carolina fans would affectionately term Duke’s home court “Hansbrough Indoor Stadium”.

February 8, 2012- Freshman Austin Rivers drilled a buzzer-beating three pointer over the outreached arms of Tyler Zeller as number 10-ranked Duke snapped number-5 UNC’s 31-game home winning streak.  Rivers’ teammates mobbed him on the Smith Center floor, as a raucous crowd went silent in the 85-84 Duke victory.

Lots of talent will be on display Thursday night, and there are always high expectations for the UNC-Duke game.

This rivalry is special because it always seems to exceed its lofty standards.

Got a UNC-Duke game you like better?  Think I missed one?  Leave a comment.


About Shane Parker

I am a married father of 3 kids with a beautiful wife. When I'm not ripping and running to my daughters' cheerleading and baseball games, I'm teaching my 18-month old son how to throw a left handed slider. I'm an avid fan of the L.A. Dodgers, the Dallas Cowboys (don't hate), and UNC basketball.