Tag Archives: rivalry

A Different Feel

This one had a different feel.

By this one, of course, I mean the Comeback Run That Wasn’t: a five-minute stretch in the middle of the 2nd half where Duke went on a 16-7 run to cut the deficit to just 75-64. Cameron was loud, the spirit fingers that spawned unlimited memes rollicking (see picture), and Duke was hitting threes again.

But it felt different. This time, I never felt more than healthy nervousness. Even when Seth Curry drew a miraculous flopping foul on a 3-point shot (thank you for that little legacy, J.J. Reddick), even when Curry rose for a 3-pointer that would have cut the lead to single digits, blown the roof off of Cameron Hansbrough Indoor Stadium, I still barely twitched. Why?

A minute or two earlier, I had seen John Henson, resting on the bench, stand up and whip his towel to the ground. And yell. Unlike the bench against Duke the first time, where dispirited faces stared glumly at the scoreboard, the sideline was fired up. The message was clear: this was not happening again.

Understand, John Henson is not the fiery type. He’s the kind of player opponents hate because he’s obnoxiously friendly on the court. This is Henson’s M.O.: after dunking on someone (and he’s done that quite a bit this year), he’ll turn to his posterized opponent, smile, and say, “Did you see that? Wow! That was a crazy dunk!”*

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UNC-Duke II: Vengeance.

(Ed note: don’t miss the Walk-Ons Duke-UNC preview podcast one post below.)

I, Nate Friedman, do solemnly swear that I will not allow myself to reach the heights of emotional investment attained during the first UNC-Duke game. I pledge to watch the game quietly, to restrict my celebrations to guarded fist-pumps and the occasional single clap. I will not throw remotes at the TV or scream swear words when Duke hits sixteen threes. Even if the Heels are winning by ten with two minutes to go, I will not begin gloating. Nor will I allow the outcome of the game to determine my mood for the next week. I make this oath in the interest of maintaining my own mental stability.

I shudder at what's going on out of this shot.

I write these words today because I’m bitterly wary. Have you turned on ESPN this week? Yes? Then you’ve seen The Shot, the first buzzer-beater in the history of the rivalry, approximately 900 times (I categorically refuse to link to it here). You’ve heard Dick Vitale moan over and over like an orgasmic Chewbacca and been forced to watch what in Alabama qualifies as sodomy as the Blue Devils man-humped each other near center court, celebrating.

I speak for a number of my Tar Heel friends when I say there is a certain sense of looming vengeance about this game. One of my friends has been posting on social media every day for the last week, “T-minus X days until dookies cry” (pejorative spelling hers). She’s not alone in the sentiment that Duke stole the game in the Dean Dome, and she’s not alone in seeking just retribution.

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Posted in Duke, UNC | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

The Passion of the Fan

Full disclosure: A UNC loss usually ruins my day, sometimes ruins a couple of days, and occasionally ruins my week. That is to say, it used to. Follow me, if you will.

Much of the reason that we sports fans exist lies in the emotional outlet that fandom provides. Sports gives us a chance to feel;  To inhale and exhale with each play, to live and die with each game. Sports opens a door to a room where we can suspend life for just a few hours, immerse ourselves in a contest, and live vicariously through the outcomes of our chosen team. Thus, the amount of your identity that is defined by fandom of a specific team is directly proportional to the degree with which you react to a win or loss. In essence, the bigger the fan, the greater the reaction to your team’s results. Which brings me back to my original thought: used to be, a Carolina loss would absolutely ruin a day/few days for me.  Likewise, a big win would put me on cloud nine for a period of time, also.

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Posted in Miscellaneous, UNC | Tagged , | 3 Comments

(Just)Pessimism Week 10: UNC – NC State

Confession: I didn’t get a chance to start watching The Rivalry Game That Isn’t until about 2:45 on Saturday afternoon. I suppose that makes me a bad fan, but I was out doing good in the community (no, seriously, stifle your laughs because I was). I was thinking on my drive home, “How am I going to find this game? It’s on the ACC Network and isn’t televised here. Hmm.” On a whim, I fired up the Xbox and loaded ESPN3… and there was the game! Holy crap! So I got to watch the UNC game in full HD, on my own TV, while skipping commercials. By turning on my video game console. God I love technology.

I suppose I should explain why for a game that had a ton of hot air around it this week – UNC coach Everett Withers essentially called NC State a crappy academic institution, then later said “I was only referring to the academic facts” – I’m calling it the Rivalry Game That Isn’t. Because, as evidenced by the picture below, NC State really IS a crappy academic institution:

I mean, we should all just be impressed he spelled "Committee" correctly, right?

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The Rivalry Question of the Week

We’re rolling out new features like crazy today. This week’s question is inspired by a comment in yesterday’s Erwin Cup rules post about the possibility of Duke and UNC meeting in the NCAA basketball tournament. I assigned the winner of this hypothetical game 30 points, the most of any potential match-up, because I think life might literally come to a halt on Tobacco Road if it ever happened. So, the question:

Would you want Duke and UNC to meet in the NCAA basketball tournament?

It’s never happened before, which is kind of insane. It’s almost like the sporting gods get together to plan it, start considering the fallout, and decide they don’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole.

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Posted in Duke, Miscellaneous, UNC | Tagged , , , | 27 Comments

The TRB Comments of the Week!

Every week, more or less, we’ll be choosing one comment from the previous week that made our hearts swell with joy, pride, or love. Then we’ll be choosing another that made the rest of our organs swell with shame, hilarity, or disgust. All comments are printed as written.


In last week’s rivalry post, which sought to determine whether an argument could be made for Duke-UNC as the greatest American rivalry, Zeke brought up an excellent point:

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The W.A. Erwin Cup: Rules

The W.A. Erwin Cup is year-long competition between Duke and UNC to determine which school had the superior year in athletics. It takes every sport into account, and leaves no stone unturned. This is the people’s alternative to the insufficient Carlyle Cup. Don’t miss part one, which reviewed the history that led us to this point and explained the origin story of W.A. Erwin.

Now, it’s on to the rules! Please note that these rules are sort of like the draft you turn in just before the final draft. We welcome reader feedback. If you see a flaw in the system, or just have an idea for improvement, let us know in the comments. It will be helpful, I promise, and we’ll give you special recognition for having made an amendment.

Part Two: RULES

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The W.A. Erwin Cup: Background

Part One: Background

Ladies and gentlemen, today is an important day in our historic rivalry. Today, we cease to be indebted to a tire company’s notion of Duke and Carolina. Today, we honor a man whose name spans two schools, and yet is all but forgotten to history. Today, we seek at long last to honestly measure the year-long merit of the schools closest to our heart. Today, the fight begins in earnest.

Thus, we introduce:

The W.A. Erwin Cup

The good stuff is coming, but bear with me now as I take you through a tour of the history and background that led us to this critical point.

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“The Best Rivalry in Sports”


Apparently SportsCenter did a “Top 10 Rivalries” piece yesterday, and this was the photo finish:

2. Duke-UNC
1. Yankees-Red Sox

I’ve probably seen a thousand of these features in my life, and that pecking order seems pretty standard. I’m not sure why it matters that we rank rivalries; I’m fortunate enough to have a stake in both of the two mentioned above, but it’s beyond me to put them in order. And because rivalries are regional, how would I ever be able to evaluate Ohio State-Michigan or Auburn-Alabama? Those teams mean nothing to me.

Actually, that’s not true; I hate them all. I wish all four schools would lose their funding tomorrow and be shut down by the state. Or maybe just burn to the ground. That’d be quicker.

But rivalry curiosity got the better of me this morning, and I googled “Top 10 Sports Rivalries.” Here’s how Duke-UNC finished relative to Yankees-Red Sox on a few different sites.

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Posted in Duke, Miscellaneous, UNC | Tagged | 30 Comments