MARCH Madness brings out the best in teams, and it also puts a spotlight on some NCAA rivalries.
Here we take a look at the beef between the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels– one of the longest-running feuds in college basketball history.
Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels beef explained
The Blue Devils and Tar Heels are arguably two of the best teams in the NCAA, making North Carolina a basketball lovers’ paradise.
Between high-profile ACC games and March Madness appearances, the state has become known for its rich sports history, however, this ultimately led to one of college basketball’s greatest rivalries.
In North Carolina, you’re either a Blue Devils fan or you’re a Tar Heels fan, and there is no in-between.
“The basketball rivalry between Duke and North Carolina is the fiercest and longest-running blood feud in college athletics, and perhaps in all of sports,” author and former Esquire magazine editor Will Blythe writes.
“To legions of otherwise reasonable adults, it is a conflict that surpasses athletics; it is rich against poor, locals against outsiders, even good against evil.
“In North Carolina, where both schools reside, it is a way of aligning oneself with larger philosophic ideals—of choosing teams in life—a tradition of partisanship that reveals the pleasures and even the necessities of hatred.”
The rivalry began in January 1920, when UNC beat Duke 36-25 in their first-ever matchup, and has continued strong for over 100 years.
“Our games against North Carolina over the decades have proven to stand that test of greatness and time and excellence.” former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said during an interview with ACC Network, via Bleacher Report.
“Whatever thing you want to check, whatever you need to have it be a great rivalry, Duke and Carolina check all the boxes.”
Simply put, there is not one moment that has defined the history of Duke and North Carolina’s feud, like most sports rivalries, it simply began because of the location of the schools and the players’ desire to be the best of the best.
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The Blue Devils and Tar Heels have a combined 38 Final Four appearances, with 11 NCAA titles, according to The News & Observer, but throughout history, they have only met once in the NCAA tournament.
They first met in the Final Four round of the 2022 tournament and UNC handed Coach K his final NCAA loss after winning 81-77.
“It was a game that the winner was gonna be joyous and the loser was gonna be in agony,” Krzyzewski said after the game, via The Washington Post.
“That’s the type of game we expected.
“I’ve said my entire career, or when I knew what the hell I was doing, I wanted my season to end where my team was either crying tears of joy or tears of sorrow,” he added, “because you knew that then they gave everything.”
The Tar Heels later lost the national championship to Kansas and then failed to make the tournament field in 2023.
While UNC might be out, the Blue Devils will be competing in the 2023 March Madness tournament as a No.5 seed.
Fans can watch all the action unfold across CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV starting March 14, 2023.