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Duke-UNC, A Rivalry Game Recap

Updated: Feb 24

By Chris Champitto

NCAA Basketball Contributor

@TimeteBestia


*Author's Note: This article was written the morning after the Duke/UNC game in Chapel Hill, but was not published immediately.*


QUICK THOUGHTS FROM CHAPEL HILL


Last night the unranked Tar Heels played host to the 7th ranked Blue Devils, and while this is the first year in a long time that both are not contenders for the ACC or the NCAA title, it was still a rivalry game. This rivalry is so heated and ingrained that even though UNC is having a major down year, while Duke looks to make a run to Atlanta in April, the Blue Devils only came in to the Dean Dome as 7.5 point favorites (must have something to do with the rivalry). Cole Anthony, (more on him later) took the court and showed why he was a top prospect coming out of high school, while Tre Jones showed once again that he wasn't a 'one-and-done' and is still a major factor on the court.



Duke took the lead at the 18:38 mark of the first half, only to hand it over to UNC just six seconds later. They would go on to trail by as much as 13 points and wouldn't even tie it up until the end of the game with a buzzer-beater by none other than Tre Jones! Aaaand with the buzzer, Duke and UNC were headed to overtime!


With overtime looming, the minds of the Tar Heel faithful were racing. "Would UNC be downed by the usually precise free-throws they have historically used to punish teams? Would Anthony live up to expectations? Can we salvage this season with a win over Duke?" Winning this game would ease the burden of not making the post-season, not winning the conference and not winning a national championship. This game just meant more than all of that. Unfortunately, UNC's hopes were dashed as Duke would go on to win in overtime on yet another buzzer-beater, after a questionable no-call on Moore (Duke) who appeared to run into Platek (UNC).


But something would come of this game - in the form of a spark - albeit a little too late in the year. UNC showed its heart and showed some life in this game. The Tar Heels proved that they are better than their record, if only for one night. I believe that the Tar Heels might have just played their way into an unusually low seed in March Madness (this aged poorly). This is obviously contingent on maintaining the same fire they showed against Duke, and on their ability to finish a competitive game. With eight games remaining before the Tar Heels drive the eight miles to infamous Cameron Indoor Stadium, UNC looks like they have a strong possibility of going 7-1, possibly dropping one game to Louisville, while setting them up nicely for an 18-15 or 19-14 overall record heading into the ACC tournament. They'd love to avoid an early draw against Duke, Florida State, or Louisville to make the semi's and perhaps punch a ticket to the Big Dance. (At this point, they need to win the ACC tournament to get the conference auto-bid... not likely, but hey anything is possible in college basketball!)


Last night the unranked Tar Heels played host to the 7th ranked Blue Devils, and while this is the first year in a long time that both are not contenders for the ACC or the NCAA title, it was still a rivalry game. This rivalry is so heated and ingrained that even though UNC is having a major down year while Duke looks to make a run to Atlanta in April, the Blue Devils only came in to the Dean Dome as 7.5 point favorites (must have something to do with the rivalry). Cole Anthony, (more on him later) took the court and showed why he was a top prospect coming out of high school, while Tre Jones showed once again that he wasn't a 'one-and-done' and is still a major factor on the court.


With the season unfolding the way it has, I fully expect a lot of these players to return next season, offering themselves a shot at redemption before cashing in on those rookie contracts. It would greatly boost the chemistry for next season and adding some critical big name recruits could leave this season as an anomaly and not a starting point for a downward spiral the team desperately wants to avoid. The biggest question mark for next year? Cole Anthony. Will he stay or will he go? With all the talent of a great future NBA star, its an important question to ask. I believe that Anthony will look back on this season which has been plagued by injury to not only himself but his supporting cast all season long. I firmly believe he will return to wear the Tar Heel colors we all love.


Editors note-

During editing, UNC lost to Wake Forest on the road in a one-sided game (74-57). When asked how this changed his opinion the author would go on to say "I think its the dagger in the season. UNC didn't play to their strengths at all and it makes you wonder if the game on Saturday was a fluke fed by the rivalry. This year I feel all we can hope for is a respectable showing at the NIT"

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