Rivalry Week. Those two words bring back memories of a full 5 days – Monday to Saturday – filled with Blue Devil and Tar Heel fans talking trash on Twitter, posting favorite rivalry memories and rocking gear showing their allegiance. It’s Wednesday and I haven’t seen one post of Danny Green putting his nuts in Greg Paulus’ face, Tyler Hansbrough’s bloodied face after getting hammered by Gerald Henderson, or Austin Rivers’ 3-point buzzer beater cementing a Duke comeback for the ages. Nothing. This is the least anticipated Duke/Carolina game in recent history.
Despite entering the year with Final Four expectations and top-3 recruiting classes, both Duke and Carolina have struggled. A shortened off-season, game cancellations, and pauses due to Covid-19 have taken a toll on both squads.
When they take the court Saturday, neither team will be ranked for the first time since February 27, 1960. The Blue Devils are coming off a disappointing loss to a depleted Miami team and the Heels will be looking to bounce back from a L against a Clemson squad that was taken to the woodshed by Duke a few days prior. No one knows what to expect from either team.
Regardless of the disappointment and uncertainty surrounding both teams, this is still Duke vs Carolina – the best rivalry in college sports and arguably all sports. A rivalry that has produced some of the best college hoops games in history. A rivalry where records and rankings don’t matter. A rivalry where anything can happen. So, although this year’s game has a lackluster appeal, it’s still a game worth getting excited about. It’s still Duke vs Carolina.