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How Duke, UNC Have Started Since Roy Williams Came To Chapel Hill

Advantage Duke.

Coach K typically gets Duke off to a fast start.
Coach K typically gets Duke off to a fast start.
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Whatever happens on Saturday when Kentucky plays at the Smith Center, North Carolina's early performance in men's basketball already has spawned consternation among the faithful.

We understand a 6-2 start may seem cause for alarm when you expect nothing short of perfection, especially when the losses come to estimable but unsung programs such as Belmont and Alabama-Birmingham from outside the power conferences. Yet it turns out, certainly during Roy Williams' 11 years at the helm, early stumbles are as much the rule as the exception at his alma mater.

In five of Williams' 11 seasons, including the last four in a row, UNC has lost at least two of its first eight games. That's a trend.

Conversely, only twice has North Carolina gotten off to an unblemished start since Williams arrived from Kansas - in 2008, when it reached the Final Four, only to lose to the Jayhawks; and 2009, when it last won the NCAA championship with a defeat of Michigan State, its most recent victim this year.

Meanwhile Duke fans seem less bothered by an identical 6-2 start that's actually far more anomalous under Mike Krzyzewski than it is under Williams, the neighboring Hall of Famer. Of course the losses came to Kansas and Arizona, both powerhouse programs, which apparently makes the medicine go down more smoothly.

Still, it's more likely Duke will start with a flourish - Krzyzewski's squads have won their first eight (or more) games in six of the last 11 seasons and 10 of the past 17.

The last time the Blue Devils started with two losses in their first eight outings was 2000. That season ended with a 29-5 record, a first-place ACC finish, an ACC Tournament title, and an advance to the Sweet 16 a year after losing four players (all but one an underclassman) in the first round of the NBA draft.

Season Starts By UNC And Duke Since Roy Williams Arrived At Chapel Hill, Through 8 Games
North Carolina Duke
Year Start Lost To Season Year Start Lost To Season
2014 6-2 Belmt, UAB Pending 2014 6-2 KU, Arizona Pending
2013 6-2 Butler, Ind 25-11 2013 8-0 None 30-6
2012 6-2 UNLV, UK 32-6 2012 7-1 Ohio State 27-7
2011 5-3 Minn, Vandy,
29-8 2011 8-0 None 32-5
2010 7-1 Syracuse 20-17 2010 7-1 Wisconsin 35-5
2009 8-0 None 34-4 2009 8-0 None 30-7
2008 8-0 None 36-3 2008 8-0 None 28-6
2007 7-1 Gonzaga 31-7 2007 7-1 Marquette 22-11
2006 6-2 Ill, So Cal 23-8 2006 8-0 None 32-4
2005 7-1 Santa Clara 33-4 2005 8-0 None 27-6
2004 7-1 Wake 19-11 2004 7-1 Purdue 31-6