This past weekend, the classic rivalry between Duke and UNC was reignited during Saturday’s football game. Devils fans were disappointed, unfortunately, with a hard-fought loss to the Tar Heels. Duke has been struggling to break free of this cycle for a few years now, and will hopefully be able to change their game next year. I would like to highlight the rivalry between these two teams, however; a rivalry that has spilled over from the ACC and into the national spotlight. The Duke vs. UNC rivalry is possibly one of biggest rivalries in the country, and has been deemed the single biggest rivalry in NCAA Basketball. The roots of the dispute go deep, and continue to spread as the schools’ sports teams continue winning.
As many of you know, the rivalry is mainly centralized around the basketball programs of the two schools, and the Duke/UNC game is usually the biggest of the year here in the Carolinas. At Duke, the Cameron Crazies don their blue paint and capes and gather behind the net to support the Devils. Cameron stadium is a relatively small arena, and has become sacred ground for all Duke fans. One fan in particular has gained national notoriety as “Speedo Guy,” arguably one of the most hardcore Cameron Crazies, who revealed his support for Duke at a Duke/UNC game a few years back. The video can be found on YouTube, for those who have not seen it.
Why is the rivalry between these two schools so heated? Probably the main reason is that Duke and UNC are situated a mere 8 miles from one another, making the dispute all the more visceral. There are tons of rivalries in college sports, but none are quite as passionate as the one between the two blues. The contention between the schools, fans, and players has persisted over the years, and has even warranted a documentary film on ESPN Classic, called the Tobacco Road Rivalry, as well as several books written on the subject.
Of course, the coaches are not out of the picture. UNC coach Roy Williams and Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, affectionately dubbed “Coach K,” are a large part of the competition. Coach K currently holds the most wins in the ACC, and Roy Williams has coached several NBA superstars. The rivalry, in some sense, has seeped into professional basketball as well.
One thing is clear, the blue schools both have incredible and dedicated fan bases, and have established a sports tradition which will inevitably endure over the next century. Go Devils!