UNC and Duke met for the first time on the basketball court on January 24th, 1920. The score of that game was 36-25. UNC was the victor. Since then, the rivalry has become one of the greatest in college basketball and, as some would claim, in all of college sports. Both UNC and Duke are two of the winningest teams in NCAA history, with Duke appearing in 16 Final Fours and winning five national championships and UNC appearing in a record 19 Final Fours and also winning five national championships. Since 1977, Carolina beat Duke 44/87 times but in that same time period, Duke scored six more points than us (6,719 – 6,713).
At UNC, the week leading up to the face-off is called “Beat dook Week." Most everyone refuses to spell the other school’s name correctly and some prefer to simply call it “that other school down the road.”
While walking through campus during Beat dook Week, you’ll hear people taking jabs at Duke’s famous tripper, Grayson Allen, and sharing sentiments like “dook fans didn’t cry when Little Sebastian died," but it’s all in good fun. Memes and anecdotes like the ones seen below run rampant on social media during Beat dook Week.
Although no one likes to admit it, there is some level of respect between the two basketball programs that likely stems from the respect of coaches, Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski, as they show each other on, and off, the court.
The last time the two teams met was at Duke on February 9th, 2017. Duke won 86-78, so Carolina fans had to unfortunately forego their tradition of rushing Franklin Street. Whenever UNC wins against Duke, students from all over campus run to the now-famous Franklin Street to celebrate with massive bonfires and other raucous activities. This week, Duke won’t have their home-team advantage so students are already preparing their running shoes.
The excitement in Chapel Hill is palpable. To get a better idea of the various thoughts currently running through the minds of Tar Heels, I reached out to students for feedback. The responses I got ranged from taunts to previous Beat dook Week memories to insightful analysis on the match-up. I actively sought the response of a Blue Devil in Ram’s clothing, but none came forward.
Brian Fischer, Sophomore, Computer Science Major
"In preparation for the game: 'My body is ready.' -Reggie Fils-Aime, 2007."
Hannah Dorrel, Freshman, Global Studies Major
"Coming into UNC I was not a huge basketball fan, but after meeting my BFF* Tony Bradley, my life changed. I'm so excited for us to crush those whiners, typical dook. They hate us 'cause they ain't us."
Mitchel Stevenson, Freshman, Journalism Major
"UNC and Duke is arguably the greatest rivalry that sports has to offer. It's provided fans with many unforgettable moments: 8 points in 17 seconds, Jerry Stackhouse's reverse dunk, Jeff Capel's half court buzzer beater, Marvin Williams' three-point-play, Hansbrough's bloody nose, Austin Rivers' buzzer beater...moments that will forever be cemented in college basketball lore. It seemed like the entire campus stopped on the day of the first match-up this year, and the disappointment seemed tangible following the loss. We'll get 'em this Saturday."
Brooke Schoeder, Junior, Biology Major
"Definitely one of the craziest and best nights of my life was when we rushed Franklin after we beat Duke last year. We ran full speed from the top floor of Morrison, sand the alma mater with people pressed up next to us as close as possible and jumped over the burning couch at the Topo* intersection."
Christian Cook, Senior, Computer Science Major
"I'm excited to see Justin Jackson VS potato man Jayson Tatum just because they are both projected to be drafted and it will be an interesting case-study seeing experiences vs one-and-done. Also, Theo Pinson and Harry Giles are from the same high school. WE MUST SHOW THAT THEO IS THE BETTER PRODUCT FROM GREENSBORO!"
Hannah Carter, Junior, Global Studies/Peace, War and Defense Major
"I think what makes the Duke-Carolina rivalry so exciting and unique is how it electrifies the UNC campus and facilitates a heightened sense of togetherness. Everyone understands how important it is, and things that normally would be totally crazy, like rushing Franklin or jumping over a fire in the street, is just part of the excitement of it all."
Regardless of which side of the rivalry you side with, we can all agree that there will be nothing better to do than watch UNC and Duke face off at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday. May your love of one team, or distaste for another, bring you closer to friends and strangers alike.
Lead Image Credit: Anders Brownworth via Wikimedia Commons
*Hannah has met Tony Bradley (#5, UNC's standout freshman) precisely once.
*Top of the Hill, a restaurant on Franklin Street.