It's a tale as old as time that takes place ten miles down Tobacco Road.
The Carolina-Duke rivalry has been documented as one of the greatest rivalries of them all. Don't believe the Louisville-Kentucky bullshit. They're not even in the same conference! The battle of the blue bloods is by far the best college basketball rivalry.
“Our games against North Carolina over the decades have proven to stand that test of greatness and time and excellence,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in an interview on the ACC Network. “Whatever thing you want to check, whatever you need to have it be a great rivalry, Duke and Carolina check all the boxes.”
At least twice a year, the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels face off in one of the most unforgettable, bloodiest, highly anticipated basketball games of the season. For Duke and Carolina fans, whoever wins is as important as the NCAA Tournament itself.
The games are always close, and a dragout, knockout battle to the buzzer. Players play their hearts out in order to protect the legacy of their program. Both programs have an impressive history. UNC has made 46 NCAA Tournament appearances, while Duke trails closely with 39. UNC has played in the Final Four an impressive 19 times, and Duke in 16. Both teams have five National Championships. Both teams have consistently been among the nation's elite basketball programs.
Duke and Carolina battled it out for the first time on January 24, 1920. The two teams have met at least twice a year since then. With so much history, the hatred runs deep. Most of us don't remember the first brawl, but it took place in 1960 when Duke's Art Heyman took on UNC's Larry Brown on the court. Actual blood was shed during the 1992 face off. UNC's Eric Montross took an elbow to the face and posed for an iconic picture of him standing at the free-throw line with blood streaming down his face. Duke's Bobby Hurley was also hurt that game, breaking his foot.
However, it's the 2007 meeting that will go down as one of the most bloodiest meetings between the two programs. If you don't remember it, you've probably seen the video and pictures from that night. Duke's Gerald Henderson hit UNC's Tyler Hansbrough hard as he went up for a shot, his elebow making contact with Hansbrough's nose and shattering it. Hansbrough is then seen jumping up, blood pouring down his face and onto his jersey, lunging towards Henderson as the trainers try to hold him back.The hatred for each other doesn't end with the players and coaches. The fans of these two programs live and breathe for their teams on Tobacco Road. Every year, fans pour in and roar for their team to defeat the in-state rival. You know the Cameron Crazies are crazy, but you haven't seen them in true form until you've seen them at the Carolina-Duke games.
The coaches, players, and fans bleed different shades of blue. Tonight, they'll be competing again in the best rivalry in college basketball. With Duke's ill-fated season thus far, and sights set for a comeback in time for March with Coach K back, and Carolina trying to maintain their ACC number-one seed, it brings a recipe for an epic game.