This rivalry pounds in the veins of residents across the country, let alone 277 zip codes. Even if you live far outside of the boundaries of Durham/Orange County, you'd better figure out which blue you bleed, and quick.
The rivalry between the Duke University Blue Devils and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels has permeated all types of playing fields, courts, pitches, and stadiums for decades. It's why students huddle together for warmth in makeshift tents outside Cameron Indoor Stadium, taking shifts to take showers. It's only during the sweet winter months, however, that we get to see it all play out on the unforgiving hardwood.
People try to joke about it to relieve the inescapable, palpable tension — but it's real. We're not the only ones who acknowledge these tales as far more than those of lore. This history has been told, retold, dissected, and argued for quite some time, and will continue to be for seasons to come.
Relive the rivalry's storied history, and then pick your side. Every year, every game is sure to be a wild ride; you may as well experience it first hand in the Bull City.
Estimated read time: 5 minutes
They call this the Tobacco Road nemeses. Duke University and UNC sit just eight miles apart and have been playing each other for almost 100 years. At the start of the 2018-19 season, UNC is No. 3 on the all-time wins list. Duke is No. 4. The two schools have combined for 38 of the 65 ACC tournament titles and 50 regular season crowns, made it to 36 Final Fours and claimed 11 national championships. All this after the series between the two began in the 1919-20 season.
Both schools have supported and cultivated renowned talent. Michael Jordan (a member of the NCAA championship team in 1982) and other Carolina greats like Vince Carter, Rasheed Wallace, and Rick Fox donned the lighter color blue. But Kyrie Irving, J.J. Redick, Jay Bilas, Shane Battier, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill, and Christian Laettner played for the Blue Devils with pride. The list continues, with extraordinary freshman talent adorning Duke's roster this season, and Carolina contending with remarkable players to call their own.
The culture of the schools are different, of course, but the passion of their fans is remarkably similar: it's unquenchable. Southern Living named it "The Most Famous Basketball Rivalry in the South."
When and where the 2019 action will happen
The Duke men's basketball team will take on Carolina in Durham on February 20 at 9 p.m. Catch the televised magic on ESPN. Their second matchup comes less than two weeks later on March 9 at the Dean E. Smith Center, and will also be televised on ESPN.
We all wish we had a crystal ball. Check out this matchup predictor to dissect the odds.
Don your best Duke or Carolina hue and pack your venue of choice with the best places in Durham to catch the action.
Located at 900 West Main Street downtown, Maverick's features multi-state BBQ, a full bar, and numerous TVs. There’s also is an outdoor patio (equipped with a second bar) and a projector they put to use for the big games, weather permitting, complete with fire pits so you can enjoy the outdoors even if there’s still a chill in the air.
Located in the Washington Duke Inn at the Duke Golf Club, this is a favorite hangout for Duke fans, and the public is welcome to watch all the games.
Situated prominently on U.S. 15/501 on the way to Chapel Hill, Carolina Ale House draws its fair share of Tar Heel fans, and with more than 50 TVs you won’t miss anything during the frenetic opening rounds when multiple games are being played simultaneously.
Most breweries are known more for their beer than their television selection, but Clouds’ spacious new location on Main Street is an exception as 33 HD screens line every wall and hang from the ceiling. Throw in a full menu and craft brews; this is a great place to relax and catch some sports.
Ranked by Complex magazine as one of the 25 best bars near a college campus, Dain’s, located in the Ninth Street district, is an obvious choice for Duke fans who are looking to join in a cheer with their dark blue brethren. Every game will play on one of four TVs — did we mention more than 80 American microbrews are available?
Another Brightleaf area hangout, Devine’s has been a favorite for locals since 1978. Enjoy pub favorites like wings and burgers while watching the tournament.
Fullsteam’s big screen will be tuned to March Madness while our teams play and you enjoy a homegrown Durham brew. The Humidity Pale Ale, the Rocket Science IPA, and the Paycheck Pilsner are always on tap in addition to seasonal specials made with local ingredients.
This southern Durham neighborhood pub will show the biggest games on one of Durham’s biggest TVs, a 120-inch projection screen. There is also a rotating, eclectic mix of 11 beers on tap.
Tobacco Road serves fresh, local food surrounded by a wall of TVs – all in a location overlooking the Durham Bulls Athletic Park across from the American Tobacco Campus.
Located in the historic American Tobacco Campus, Tyler’s serves 60 beers on tap alongside American comfort food. There are also pool tables and more TVs in the Speakeasy as well as six additional drafts and two more televisions in the outdoor biergarten.
Featured image by Reagan Lunn.