The rivalry is as strong as ever
Posted March 6, 2011
Just when you think you have a handle on the Duke-Carolina rivalry, that handle breaks off and disintegrates....
A little over a year ago, Duke was riding high and the Tar Heels were grasping for answers. The Devils brought another NCAA Championship trophy home to Durham, and Carolina seemed fortunate to make a nice run in the NIT. And let's face it, the letters "N-I-T" have been unpopular in Chapel Hill ever since the NCAA embraced the idea of "at-large bids" in the 1970's.
That 2010 team left a lot to be desired. With no real leader and no "go-to" guy, theirs was often a rudderless ship. Roy Williams was miserable, and not afraid to show it. And "The Presbyterian Fan" had his 15 minutes of fame.
But that all seems like a thousand centuries ago now.
It just goes to show how quickly an elite program can hit a switch and find the right gear. Carolina was never devoid of talent. it's just that a few parts didn't fit well, and a few others had to mature and gain experience.
But 2010 is now officially in North Carolina's rear-view mirror. In beating Duke, the Tar Heels exorcised a few demons of their own, successfully completing a remarkable turnaround from a disappointing 2010 season.
As far as the rivalry is concerned, there are parallels to be drawn to Duke's rise in 2010.
After the '09 season, it was Carolina with the new NCAA trophy. Then when the Tar Heels out-recruited Duke for Harrison Barnes, the balance of power seemed to shift heavily toward the lighter shade of blue.
Duke proved otherwise a year later, winning a title and winning the recruiting battle for Austin Rivers.
Next year, who knows?
That's why this rivalry is so big, so intense and so storied.