Duke and UNC match off this weekend, and both will be unranked for the first time since 1960. Wild, 153 straight matchups where at least one of the teams has been ranked. Don’t let this year fool you, this rivalry is still the greatest in sports. Growing up in North Carolina, this rivalry was the biggest event of the year. People care 100x more about this game than the Super Bowl or anything else. Even if the season is awful for both sides, winning this game makes the season somewhat a success. The hate is real, US Representative Brad Miller, a huge UNC fan, told a AP writer in 2012, “I have said very publicly that if Duke was playing against the Taliban then I’d have to pull for the Taliban.” A bit extreme, but you get the point, the hate is real.
For starters, the schools are only eight miles apart. This rivalry started in 1920, the two teams have been at least twice a year since then. Carolina is number three in all-time wins in college hoops, Duke is four. Duke and UNC have combined for 11 national championships, combining for ten over the last 36 years. Both schools have three of the greatest and winningest coaches ever. Coach K for Duke, Dean Smith and Roy Williams for UNC. All three coaches rank top five in all-time wins. Can’t think of another rivalry that people camp out for months to just get into the game.
It is the hardest game to get into. In 2019, the average price for a ticket was $4,670, the cheapest being $2,927. This game always delivers. Obviously, things will be different this year. No fans and both unranked, but this game somehow always delivers and it will again this Saturday.