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.

Do you agree with the deities? Is there mercy in keeping the teams separated. As with any big decision, it will help to make a ‘pros and cons’ list.


-If your team won, bragging rights forever. Or at least until the next time it happened, which could take decades. This is the quintessential trump card, and it would never lose its value.

-It would be a historical event. You’d have a rooting interest in one of the highest-stakes basketball games ever.

-You’d be buzzing with adrenaline for a week. You’d finally know the feeling of being moments away from battle in a war.


-Losing this game would be exceedingly worse than winning it. Particularly if the rivalry is sort of a mild entertainment for you. Unless you really, really, really loathe the other school, the thrill of winning the game will wear off at least a little by the next season. Losing will sting forever. It’s almost too painful to think about. I have a little experience with this; in 2004, the Red Sox became the only baseball team to come back from an 0-3 deficit in a playoff series (it’s been done three times in hockey, and never in basketball), and they did it against my Yankees. It was crushing at the time, and the Game 7 win from a year before stopped mattering at all. Today, it’s still annoying to think about.

-Fans of the other school would give you shit forever. Neutral fans who only understand the rivalry as some kind of ESPN gimmick would give you even more shit. You might have a 24-hour window where both groups gave you a little space and respected the pain, but after that it would be open season on your emotions.

-The game itself would be nothing but stress. Win or lose, you wouldn’t enjoy a single second. Any deficit would be apocalyptic. Any lead would be a chance for a devastating comeback. You’d spend most of the game yelling and screaming and feeling on the brink of a personal disaster. It would undoubtedly be the worst game you’ve ever watched.

-Win or lose, you’d probably come down with post-traumatic stress disorder.

You can probably tell my answer: hell no. I’m content to leave the natural order undisturbed and act out our yearly drama on the ACC stage. Let me know your take.

This entry was posted in Duke, Miscellaneous, UNC and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to The Rivalry Question of the Week

Register |

  1. Lisa says:

    “Hell no” here too.

  2. nick says:

    For me, I think that I could handle it in the early rounds of the tournament, but that’s not very likely to ever happen. The selection committee just isn’t going to set that up under average circumstances.

    Which means that they’d be meeting in the later rounds. In which case I’m with you. The closer it gets to the championship game the less tolerable it sounds and if it were actually the championship game… I’d just quit. Quit life. I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it anymore.

    1. Shane says:

      Yeah, I should have put that in the post…in all likelihood, we’re talking about a Final Four or championship game match-up. It would be a pretty cold day in hell before the committee put Duke and UNC in the same bracket. It’s one of those unwritten rules.

  3. Justin says:

    I’m not a “hell no!” but I am a no.

    I don’t add the “hell” because I think I would find it incredibly compelling. There’s a feeling you get when you know you’re watching history in the making and I’m a sucker for that feeling.

    The biggest reason why I answer “no” is that because it wouldn’t happen very often. Rivalries are rivalries because teams play each other often and each team and fan base gets a chance to remeasure themselves against their opponents each year.

    If Duke and UNC only met once every 20 years in the tournament, there’s no way the losing team could measure up to the winning team. If Duke and UNC met in the NCAA every year, I’d be fine with it, but then it wouldn’t be anymore special than the regular season or ACC tournament.

    I also think meeting in the NCAA tourny could damage perceptions of the rivalry. Right now, Duke and UNC are seen a two equal superpowers . If one wins in the tourny, I think the loser becomes viewed as a lesser power and then the ACC becomes a conference with only one Behemoth in the eyes of the unbiased instead of two.

    1. William says:

      I agree to an extent, but I don’t think the loser becomes a lesser power. Maybe it would depend on the outcome of the game. If it was a blowout one way or the other, perhaps it would cause some to view a team as superior, but I think the general unbiased fan knows there are wild swings from year to year in basketball. Just looking at the last 10 years of UNC…there were only 3 years between 8-20 and the 2005 national championship team…only 1 year between NIT and 1st place in the ACC/oh-so-close to another Final Four.

      Heck, when UNC won it all in 2009, they looked like they had established themselves as the top program…of course then dook turns around and wins it all the next year.

      It would be excruciating to lose and it would be another talking point like better head to head record, or more ACC tournament titles, but it wouldn’t be a definitive indicator of one team’s clear superiority.

      1. Shane says:

        I agree with Justin on that feeling of history, which to me is the only thing this match-up has going for it. But I’m with William in that I don’t think it would definitively say anything about the programs. As we saw from ’09 to ’10, the perception of which team is superior can change wildly in a single year. And now it’s back with UNC.

        The sting would be worse if Duke were to lose to Carolina in the Final Four, and the really vexing part is you couldn’t get rid of that sting until you reversed the situation, but even a national audience would catch on quick when the power structure shifts again.

  4. CountFloyd says:

    I can tell you one thing; I would not watch the game as it is being played. I’d set the DVR and pop a tape in the trusty VCR, then I’d go out for a walk. If Duke loses, delete; if Duke wins, well, I’d watch the game in a day or two because, you know…no rush. (Mainly to let my heart rate slow down.)

  5. Andrew says:

    One of the main reasons people enjoy rivalry games is because of the intensity and added importance. If the importance and intensity were greatly increased, it would just become that much more awesome.

    Anyone who says they wouldn’t be able to watch it is lying– you wouldn’t be able to NOT watch this. It would become a national event and would effect the dynamic of the rivalry forever. Stressful– you bet your ass. But if you’re a fan of the rivalry, you’ve got to want the games to be as epic as possible and try your best to stomach the awful potential downside.

  6. Shane says:

    Somehow, I agree with both the Count and Andrew.

    1. Lisa says:

      I would have it on, but I wouldn’t be watching it unless it was through my fingers. I’d be glued to Twitter.

  7. T Fab P says:

    Shane, as added embellishment to the Con side of this, I live in the heart of Red Sox country and I STILL hear about 2004. Like “Hey, what do you want to do with this and ha-ha, the Sox beat the New Yawkers after being down 3-0” or “Should we crush this like the Sox crushed the Yankees in 2004. We won the World Series that year too, screw 1918…” I am sure Duke/NC would be as difficult for the loser…

    1. sanfransoxfan says:

      Sorry T Fab – I was trying to hit the “Like” button, but hit the “Unlike” button instead. Kind of like how the Yankees were reaching for the ALCS banner in ’04 after game 3 and then…

  8. Nate says:

    Andrew, undoubtedly it would be a crazy epic matchup. But I’m with the “hell no’s” on this one (obviously, since it appears my comment precipitated this post altogether), because while the game itself would be heart-attack-inducing, the following year’s games and all other games in the future would be reduced in value. It’s like Carolina’s epic pickup games during the summer – even if the current players (Marshall, Barnes, etc) win against the old guard, players like Hansbrough, Felton, and May can just point up to the rafters and say, “you can’t talk sh*t yet, son.”

    Now multiply that disdain by a hundred thousand, and you have all future UNC-Duke games. No.

    In fact, the only way I get myself around an ACC Tournament game – in which a UNC-Duke matchup is almost bound to happen – is to tell myself, over and over, that Roy Williams hates the ACCT and doesn’t care about winning it because it makes your legs tired right before the tournament and losing gives you a little bit of a sharp edge blah blah blah. It’s all mental cushioning to prevent a nuclear apocalypse.

    I suspect that should Duke and UNC meet in a real tournament game (because I actually do believe what I just said about the ACCT, it’s a stupid, risky proposition for shoo-ins like Duke and UNC, especially against sometimes-goon squads like FSU and Georgia Tech), my mental blocks would fail and I’d have to be placed into a medically induced coma until 2045.

    1. sanfransoxfan says:

      Nate, fans from both teams would require a medically-induced coma. This is both a tribute to the rivalry and a strong endorsement for never having to put ourselves through it.

  9. sanfransoxfan says:

    1. Ask Maryland (who consider themselves rivals of Duke) about the ’01 Final Four. They won it all the next year and still haven’t forgotten ’01. Heck, UK isn’t even a rival, and they’re still recovering from ’92, and they also have won a championship since then. Play UNC in the Final Four, or god forbid, the Championship game? No thank you. I’ll go so far as to say I’d trade the “W” for a “pass.” Win or lose in the ACC tourney final, there’s always “next year.”
    2. Shane couldn’t be more correct about his personal experience. After ’04, Aaron stopped being Aaron effing Boone for that ’03 walk off. The Yankees, in spite of winning in ’09, are no longer the Evil Empire (a la Prince, they are now “the team formerly known as the Evil Empire”). I couldn’t bear it. I don’t know how Shane does. I don’t want that in the even better, more significant Duke/UNC rivalry.

    1. Shane says:

      Good point on Maryland-Duke. They’ll never forget that one. I also like to think they reserve some traumatic memories for J-Will’s miracle minute in the regular season.

      1. sanfransoxfan says:

        It was the setup to the FF game. It broke their backs. They partially healed, but knew Duke would do it again if another meeting occurred. I can never feel sorry for them, but that level of suckitude is unprecedented. It would have been like another walk-off by the Yankees in ’04 game 7 after they did it in ’03. I’m not sure Boston would even have a baseball team now had that happened. Perhaps not a city either.

  10. daniel says:

    this past year’s acc final was the first time me and my classmates had witnessed a third duke-unc game in one season. during the days before the game, when duke and nc were mowing down the suckas in the early rounds, the question was asked whether we would like to see a rematch in the title game. my friends, clearly disturbed by the beat down duke received in chapel hill, were afraid of a rematch for many of the reasons you mentioned. still, in an uncharacteristic example of what constitutes bravery in this context, i decided that i would instead root FOR unc to reach the final. when the matchup was set, my friends were all like ‘thanks, asshole. i hope you’re happy,’ and i could see the terror in their eyes. i had a simple answer: ‘of course i’m happy – nolan smith is gonna slap those bitches up.’ we all know what happened.

    granted that a ncaa tournament game would be bigger by several orders of magnitude (especially since we’re talking about a final four game as mentioned above), i like to think that i would have enough confidence in duke to assassinate unc with extreme prejudice and enjoy every minute of it.

    then again, if duke lost, i would probably kill myself.

    1. Shane says:

      I was the same way by the semis. I knew we’d have their number if they made it to the finals, especially after the comeback wins, and I badly wanted the beatdown.

      1. jchenkel says:

        Haha this place is all nice and civil right now. It’s gonna be a madhouse come basketball season.

        Case in point: You say “of course i’m happy – nolan smith is gonna slap those bitches up” in the title game. I hear “of course i’m happy – nolan smith is gonna hang all over Marshall like a middle school chick on her 20 year old meth-head boyfriend and wait for the refs to never call it until Marshall is so off his game you can’t even recognize him.”

        1. daniel says:

          you say potato, i say tomato.

  11. TarHeelAlex says:

    100% No!

    I still feel the pain of 2004. I don’t need that be used against me in another sport. And also, I feel as though if it was the Final Four, then the letdown to the title game would be so immense that I kinda wouldn’t care. Like in 2003. I still remember beating the Red Sox in ’03, and I barely think or lament about losing to the young pesky Marlins after. And that is not a feeling I want. To win the mega big Final Four and lose the National Championship and not even have it matter goes against everything I accept in dominant programs.

    I’ll also note this game should have happened back in 1991.

    1. sanfransoxfan says:

      I remember thinking, when Dean got tossed (for doing practically nothing) in ’91, “oh my god, we’ll be playing with house money now!” 1991 and the Duke/UNC collision course to the Finals is probably the perfect real life example to test your weightings against, Shane. If it hadn’t been for UNLV grabbing all the attention going for a perfect season and a repeat, this would have been one of the biggest stories in Tourney history.

  12. Matt says:

    I get nervous just reading this. There is no way I would survive a final four Duke/UNC game. So HELL NO I never want to see this happen.

  13. billy says:

    i’m going with “hell no” too. playing dook in the tournament would be too much. i might not survive. the stress would just be overwhelming, and you’re right, the unparalleled, perpetual glory that would come from beating dook in the tourney would only be eclipsed by the crushing, total devastation that would come from losing.

    also, i think the earlier in the tournament the match up came, the worse a loss would be (except for the actual championship). if we lost to dook in the final four, we could say “at least we made it to the final four.” even though it wouldn’t help much, it’d help a little…

  14. Brian says:

    The whole of the Triangle area would explode if this happened. I’m going to have to go with “Hell no”. The negative is way, way way, worse than any positive you get from winning. At least for someone near the schools. Look at Maryland ’01 and the animosity there still is, 11 years later, solely over that loss (and the Miracle Minute). Maryland fans who you ask why they hate Duke either don’t know and spew the same crap as your generic Duke haters, or they blame those ’01 losses. Moreso the ’01 losses. The riots really took off after that season because those 2 losses in 01 to us were so stomach-punching. Look at Kentucky from ’92, 19 years ago. Still hold a grudge.

    There can’t be MORE animosity between the two fanbases. Things already are bad. Given that it would almost certainly be a Final Four or Championship match-up (Elite 8 at the earliest, I’d say… but doubtful) it would be even worse. Not worth the stress and the animosity in the lead-up to it. Even winning would come with too high of a price.

  15. DWright says:

    This is where I’m different. Maybe it’s because I’ve been out of NC and living in SEC country for the last 15 years (and havent met many fans on either side here), but I’d personally love it, though it’s a helluva risk for anyone on either side living amongst each other. I’m sure my opinion would change if I were back in the area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *