UNC-Duke Gets a Third Chapter

This isn’t supposed to happen.

Well, in theory it’s absolutely plausible that it’s happening, but let me embellish a little bit. Tomorrow, UNC and Duke will meet for the third time this season in the ACC Tournament semifinals.

We don’t deserve this, and the basketball gods know this. Remember the stress of every UNC-Duke game over the last couple years? Down to the wire games with immense amounts of drama and tension – so much so that both sets of fans are only allowed two meetings a year to keep themselves sane.

For UNC fans, one heartbreaking loss at Cameron Indoor and then a scrappy return win at the Dean Dome wasn’t enough. The universe decided that it needed it one more time.

So tomorrow, in what will be a much tamer setting than the previous two games, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels of Tobacco Road will clash heads for one last time this season (probably).

It only makes sense, to be honest. In a season where both teams got their respective wins on their home court, it feels like there is still something to be decided this year. Neither UNC nor Duke fans felt like they had a real claim to the rivalry as the regular season ended. Sure, North Carolina can rely on recency bias, but it’s also hard to erase the memory of Grayson Allen draining seven threes to upset the Tar Heels a little over a month ago.

So it’s destiny, then, that these teams meet once again. Berry vs. Allen, Kennard vs. Jackson, Hicks vs. Tatum, Roy vs. K. It’s perfect poetry, and the most anticipated semifinal game since 1980 (Do you believe in miracles?)

Tobacco Road is a never ending path, destined to guarantee two stopping points every year. Consider this a small branch off of the path; it’s still as much a part of the whole as anything, but feels a little out of place. Will students rush Franklin for a UNC victory? Probably not. Will Duke students camp out in tents outside of the Barclays Center tomorrow? Most definitely not.

But still, this game has the most significance. An ACC title – that’s history. That’s something that cements a team in history, in the upper echelon of college basketball. So tomorrow’s game may not be one for all the marbles, but it’s absolutely worth a few.

So to the delight of college basketball fans around the world, let’s watch these teams do battle one more time.


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