The pattern is breaking down. Duke has won 11 of the last 14 meetings with North Carolina, regardless of venue, with this year’s second contest coming on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Since Roy Williams returned to Chapel Hill, his alma mater, in 2003-04, the teams have met on each other’s home courts on 25 different occasions and once in the ACC Tournament. For much of Williams’ tenure, Duke and North Carolina followed a surprisingly distinct pattern in their annual series. Less significant than the location of the games was the order in which they were played.
First time around, wherever the teams played, the advantage was apt to go to Duke. Return engagement, it was wise to bet on the Tar Heels.
But the balance has shifted, if only temporarily. Duke has posted a 16-10 record in the series over the past 13 years, including a win at the Center of Smith on Feb. 17, and is on a four-game winning streak.
The last time the Blue Devils won this many in a row against the Tar Heels Matt Doherty, Williams’ overmatched disciple, was in charge at UNC. Starting with the second meeting of 2001, when Duke went small to start a 10-game winning streak that culminated in a surprise NCAA title, Mike Krzyzewski’s teams won six straight against the Heels.
Before that Duke won five in a row from 1999 through 2000 with Bill Guthridge at the Heels’ helm.
The only longer string of Duke victories against Carolina came from 1962 through 1964, when it won seven consecutive times against teams coached by newcomer Dean Smith.
UNC’s longest winning streak against the Devils was eight, first from 1972 through 1974 and repeated from 1975 through 1977. In fact, between ‘72 and ’77 the Heels won 16 of 17 against teams coached by Bucky Waters, Neil McGeachy and Bill Foster.