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Saturday June 25th

UNC-Duke rivalry hasn't always been intense

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In the latest basketball matchup with N.C. State University, UNC students chanted “not our rival” — but many don’t realize that sentiment is a relatively new development.

“There’s no question that back in the ‘50s and early ‘60s, the (N.C.) State rivalry was the great rivalry,” said Tom Lambeth, a 1957 UNC graduate.

Game Day Events:

Duke Sucks Event: The Bull’s Head Bookshop in Student Stores hosts an event with authors Reed Tucker and Andy Bagwell for their new book “Duke Sucks: A Completely Evenhanded, Unbiased Investigation into the Most Evil Team on Planet Earth.” Students may take turns whacking a Duke Sucks pinata and grab free Duke Sucks buttons.
Time: noon to 3 p.m.
Location: The Pit

Game Viewing Party: Tickets are now available for the screening of the Duke game at the Varsity Theater, which has two theaters reserved for game-watchers. Tickets will be sold in the Pit today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and cost $5 in advance and $6 at the door.
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Location: The Varsity Theatre

Meanwhile, Duke University was a notable competitor only because of its proximity to UNC, not its talent.

Lambeth said during that time, former N.C. State basketball coach Everett Case’s aggressive and competitive approach earned him success and national fame.

The intensity of the UNC-N.C. State rivalry was exacerbated when the Dixie Classic, an annual basketball tournament, ended in scandal when N.C. State and UNC players were accused of point shaving in 1961.

Phil Ford, a former UNC basketball player, said the N.C. State rivalry dominated UNC’s basketball seasons for decades.

“When I was in college in the mid-‘70s, N.C. State was the big game,” he said.

In 1974, N.C. State maintained a long winning streak against UNC before winning the national championship.


In 1975, UNC beat N.C. State in the ACC tournament, marking a turning point for the rivalry.

“And (N.C.) State kind of went away,” said Freddie Kiger, a current ESPN analyst who worked as a statistician with former coach Dean Smith.

Mihailovich said the UNC-Duke rivalry began in earnest in January 1984 when Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski accused ACC referees of unfairly favoring UNC.

“From that point on, games were heated and close,” Mihailovich said. “It was the start of the war.”

Lambeth said the rivalry is influenced by proximity of the campuses, the academic success of both schools and the national reputation of both teams.

Franklin “Rusty” Clark, a 1960s UNC basketball player, said the rivalry has existed for so long simply because Duke’s basketball team has been able to provide UNC’s team with enough of a challenge to keep it interesting.

“It all has to do with the quality of the opponent,” Mihailovich said.

Ford said UNC has always been one of the country’s top programs, and when Krzyzewski took the reins, the rivalry became natural.

Mihailovich said UNC’s top rival would still be N.C. State if N.C. State had maintained the level of success Duke has had.

“We like to beat (N.C.) State but there’s no one we like to beat more than Duke,” Lambeth said.

Kiger said he expects the rivalry to continue in the future.

“I think Coach Krzyzewski has a lot of mileage in him and Roy Williams isn’t going anywhere,” he said.

“This rivalry is not going to go away.”

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