Exploding sneakers. An errant elbow and a bloody nose. Last-second jumpers that landed like gut shots.
They played 24 times in the last decade, capping four of the last nine seasons with meetings in the ACC Tournament. Duke won three tournament contests and went on to capture the ACC title – a pair of double-digit victories in the 2011 final and the 2017 semifinal, and a 74-73 triumph in the 2019 semifinal. UNC won in the ‘18 semis by five.
North Carolina has won six of the last 10 games between the pair overall. Duke has won 20 of the 36 meetings (55.6 percent) covering Roy Williams’ tenure at Chapel Hill.
Three of the last five NCAA champions from the two schools swept their season series, UNC in 2009 and Duke in 2010 and 2015.
They’re about to embark on their second century of competition, 100 consecutive years down and presumably many more to come.
For much of Williams’ tenure, the schools followed a surprisingly distinct pattern in their annual series. Less significant than the location of their regular-season games was the order in which they were played.
First time around, wherever the teams met, the advantage was apt to go to Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils – 11 times in 16 opportunities (68.8 percent). Come the return engagement, it was wise to bet on the Tar Heels. In second meetings Carolina won 10 of 16 (62.5 percent) regardless of venue – still in keeping with the overall pattern.
Given the Heels’ 2020 struggles, even as they reintegrate budding star Cole Anthony into their lineup, the odds of the pattern continuing this week are strong.
National Champions From ACC Year After Winning Crown
(W Indicates Women’s Team)