Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Oh Yeah, UNC-Duke Is Tonight

As a diehard Carolina fan, today is like a National holiday to me. I even have the day off of work. When people say "circle this date on your calendar" -- I do!

What is funny is that I live in Kentucky now and know only one Duke fan. Far from the thousands of Dookies I knew or ran into when I lived in Charlotte. So I love it when people ask me about how the game will turn out.

You can't answer that.

Part of a great rivalry is that whole "throw the records out the window" stuff. I think that is a bunch of crap because when UNC stunk and Duke was elite, the Blue Devils dominated the Heels. The same thing happened in the early 1980s when Coach K was building back up Duke's program and guys like James Worthy and Michael Jordan were dominating the Devils.

Aside from those moments, however, it is amazing how many of these games are so evenly matched ... even if they really aren't.

They rank No. 3 and No. 4 (or No. 5 in the coaches poll) which means you have two elite teams with National Championships dancing in their heads. However, these two couldn't be any different. Duke can't guard Tyler Hansbrough or Ty Lawson. UNC can't guard Kyle Singler or Gerald Henderson. The Heels should dominate on the glass while Duke will hit more than its fair share of threes.

What games like this come down to is poise. Over time, the loser of this game tends to lose poise during a stretch in the game. Last year in Chapel Hill, Carolina lost poise when Duke was hitting everything they threw up. In Durham, Duke lost poise at the end of the game when the outcome was on the line. It happens when the bright lights are shining on 18 to 23 year olds.

Regardless, it should be a great game. Two Hall of Fame coaches bringing their elite programs into one of the greatest venues to watch a sporting event with a lot riding on the outcome.

That makes a great rivalry.

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