Sometimes losing has a cascade effect. Sometimes winning does too. When the wins come in a bunch it's called momentum. When the losses follow one after the other it's called a skid.
And when there's no discernible pattern, it's called...life.
Or maybe it's just called discontinuous results, or random chance, or a chart that goes nowhere.
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Anyway, here's what we examined: Duke suffered a surprising - truth be told, embarrassing - 82-72 loss at Wake Forest the other night. Knowing they next face North Carolina, we thought we'd see how the Blue Devils perform against the Tar Heels coming off a defeat.
We restricted the examination to the Mike Krzyzewski era, which happily has no apparent end in sight following a scare at Joel Coliseum when the 67-year-old fell victim to light-headedness on the bench.
We found that in 33rd previous return engagements in the Duke-UNC series during the regular season -- not counting games during the early 1980s in the Big Four Tournament -- the Devils followed a loss against another team with a win against the Tar Heels seven times. They also followed a loss against another team with a loss against the Tar Heels seven times.
On the other hand, when Duke won prior to facing Carolina, it beat UNC seven times. But it also lost a dozen times when it won immediately before taking on the Heels.
Does that mean the Blue Devils were better off seeing the desperate Demon Deacons register 17 unanswered points on the scoreboard to pull away to victory late in the second half? Probably not, but it is mildly suggestive.
In the interests of sanity, if not tired typing fingers, we've limited what follows to the seasons since 2000.
We note in passing that Duke is 6-8 in second meetings with UNC since the '00 season, and 11-4 in first meetings. The first-time loss total includes the rather sound beating the Devils took at Chapel Hill in February when they inadvertently left their defense in the locker room along with their street clothes and various other paraphernalia.
And we would be remiss if we didn't add the obligatory mention that Duke-UNC games are entities unto themselves, and thus not subject to the ordinary workings of cause and effect where momentum and skids are concerned.
SQUARING OFF THE SECOND TIME AROUND
|Season||Duke Result |
Prior to UNC
|Second Time |
Year vs. UNC
|2014||-10 at Wake||??, home||L|
|2013||+28 v. Va Tech||W, away||W|
|2012||+8 at Wake||L, home||W|
|2011||+11 v. Clemson||L, away||W|
|2010||-7 at Maryland||W, home||W|
|2009||+3 v. Florida State||L, away||L|
|2008||+16 at Virginia||L, home||W|
|2007||-8 v. Maryland||L, away||L|
|2006||-5 at Florida State||L, home||W|
|2005||+24 v. Miami||L, away||W|
|2004||-8 v. Georgia Tech||W, home||W|
|2003||+16 v. Florida State||L, away||W|
|2002||-3 at Virginia||W, home||W|
|2001||-11 v. Maryland||W, away||L|
|2000||+14 at Clemson||W, home||W|