Literature professor and mythologist Joseph Campbell defines his concept of the "monomyth" as such:
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
Immediately makes one think of UNC-Duke basketball, no?
Now, I know what you're thinking: here's some semi-intellectual idiot on the internet, framing a dumb sports game in loosely academic terms to make himself feel better about dedicating large portions of his life to people shooting a ball. To that I say ... well, just hear me out anyway.
From a Tar Heel perspective: A hero (Tyler Hansbrough) ventures forth form the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder (a packed Dean Dome): fabulous forces (Gerald Henderson elbows) are there encountered and a decisive (86-72) victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons (alcohol-induced elation) on his fellow man (student).
It goes beyond one game though. Styles make fights; UNC-Duke is an ideological battle. Private school versus public. Three-point shooting and patient offense versus dominant big men and infinite fast breaks. Rich, spoiled Jersey brats (that's the stereotype, at least) versus homegrown, good-hearted Carolina kids (that part is totally true).
At the risk of sounding like an overzealous English major, there's a reason why UNC-Duke is a national, or even global, affair. It's a myth, a story of monumental proportions on the level of "The Odyssey," or "Hamlet" or "Star Wars." It captures our imaginations and etches itself into our memories.
Chuck Klosterman once wrote that everything can be framed in terms of the definitive NBA rivalry of the 1980s: you're either a Lakers person or a Celtics person, and there's no in-between.
I posit that actually, you're either a North Carolina person or a Duke person. And there is definitely — with no apologies whatsoever to N.C. State fans — no in-between.