UNC vs. Duke is the best rivalry in college sports. Some can even argue the best in sports period, but we won’t make that case today instead, let’s discuss New York being the perfect stage for round 3.
The site of the ACC Tourney has been the most talked about topic amongst writers, professionals and Jim Boeheim. While the topic is understandably hot, one has to admit, seeing the best conference in America at the Mecca of Basketball, is not only beneficial for exposure, but business. At first, I couldn’t understand why Boeheim would want the ACC tournament in NY; it’s a far travel for people in the south, the unnecessary traffic and not to mention the expenses of being in New York, but there is something in the area with this conference here. The teams playing have given New York everything they have; proving that the ACC deserves the big stage.
The show that will prove the ACC tournament can no longer be in Greensboro, NC, is UNC vs. Duke. This match-up proves that the illumanti is real; how else would this match-up happen in none other than New York?! The Mecca of Basketball! Only being 8 miles apart, UNC vs. Duke is college sports most heated rivalry. From hating Christian Laettner to seeing Tyler Hansbrough with a bloody nose or the infamous Art and Larry fight, this rivalry doesn’t get any more physical, aggressive or personal. The rivalry dates back to their first meeting in 1920, and since the development of tv and ESPN, UNC vs. Duke is always nationally televised. UNC leads the series 135-109, with UNC winning their first meeting. When the two neighbors meet, it’s no secret that the two are usually ranked as the best teams adding more fuel to the fire.
The meeting tomorrow, starting at 7pm in Barclays, is the first time these two have met in the tourney since 2001 and 2011 with Duke winning both appearances. And while both coaches have been quiet about the meet up, fans and professionals alike are excited to see these two teams go head to head. UNC vs Duke always gives fans what they want and I don’t expect the dramatics to be any less in Brooklyn.
The last time these two met up, two weeks ago, it was the most watch and highest rated game of the college basketball season; imagine what a round 3 in New York is going to do. A Friday night game giving people an ample amount of time to tune in, is bound to to out rank its previous showing. Both teams are healthy and capable of out showing the other. If Duke can have a perfect balance of Grayson Allen, Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson and Luke Kennard, UNC should be afraid. But the one weapon that UNC has over Duke is a bench and rest. During the tournament, Coach K has played his starters to 30 mins or more; that’s zero rest and time to recoup. The energy it takes to play two full quarters is exhausting and can weigh on a player. Today, Duke showed signs of tiredness and they are only in their second game. UNC on the other hand, needs a strong game from Justin Jackson, Joel Berry and Isaiah Hicks. Joel Berry was considerably quiet during their first game against Miami, but it was the strength of Hicks that carried the team. Hicks also did something incredibly magical today, he only committed one foul. With Hicks out of foul trouble it allows a better rotation for Coach Williams, giving his players ample time to make big plays while also resting them for the stretch if needed.
When it’s all said and done, today’s game is bound to be something special. Who knows, this could be the game that determines whether the tournament has outgrown Greensboro, but one thing it won’t outgrow are the hearts of ACC fans; they will travel far and wide when it comes to their teams. College basketball fans, gear up for a fight. Both teams are expected to bring their A-game on the New York stage.