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Most Duke, UNC Wins to Start an ACC Regular Season

UNC's ACC start is getting close to being great by UNC standards.

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The run already has become a recurring theme of the 2016 season: North Carolina’s start in ACC play is the best of Roy Williams’ 13-year tenure.

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That’s usually as far as the observation goes. But a deeper examination adds some much-needed perspective.

By defeated Boston College on Saturday afternoon, running their ACC record to 8-0, the Tar Heels are approaching lofty territory in program history. Only seven previous UNC squads started an ACC season with double-digit victories, most recently the 2001 club coached by Matt Doherty.

Upping the degree of difficulty, Williams’ team next travels to Louisville on Monday and to Notre Dame the day prior to the Super Bowl. Then, following a trip to BC, it returns to the Smith Center to host Pitt, Duke and Miami over a one-week span in mid-February.

For a bit of historical contrast, consider that the last squad to win 10 or more to open ACC play was Syracuse in 2014. The Orange got off to a 12-0 start, then flamed out, losing six of their next nine including in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

Duke has posted six ACC starts with 10 or more wins, most recently in 2008.

Of the 13 teams from Duke and UNC that kicked off an ACC season with at least 10 victories, five didn’t lose any league games (38.5 percent). Seven won the subsequent ACC Tournament (53.8 percent). Seven advanced at least to the NCAA Final Four.

Of the 13, four reached the national title game, with only the ’57 Tar Heels taking the ultimate prize.

However you cut it, based on precedent across the ACC’s perennially dominant programs, two more wins will almost surely ratify the 2016 North Carolina squad as an uncommon unit capable of extraordinary accomplishments.

Most Duke, UNC Wins to Start an ACC Regular Season
(Asterisk Indicates Won ACC Tournament)
W in Row School Year Final
16 Duke* 1999 37-2 Championship Game
14 UNC* 1957 32-0 National Champions
14 Duke* 1963 27-3 Final Four
14 UNC 1984 28-3 Second Round
14 UNC 1987 32-4 Elite 8
14 Duke* 2006 32-4 Sweet 16
12 UNC* 1968 28-4 Championship Game
11 UNC 1959 20-5 First Round
11 UNC 2001 26-7 Second Round
10 Duke* 1964 26-5 Championship Game
10 UNC* 1967 26-6 Final Four
10 Duke 2004 31-6 Final Four
10 Duke 2008 28-6 Second Round