Duke-CarolinaIt's game day! The second Dook-Carolina game always means a little more than the first - it's Senior Day for the home school, seeding in the ACC Tournament (and often the NCAA Tournament) is on the line and one school is seeking revenge for their loss in the first meeting. All of those things are true this year, with not only the No, 1 seed in the ACC Tournament on the line but a good shot at a NCAA No. 1 seed as well. On the other hand, there's a marked lack of excitement about the game around here as the murder of Eve Carson has put all of this in context.
There's a good Wikipedia entry on the rivalry listing out some of the best games of the series (they left off one of my favorites although it wasn't close - the January 1990 game in the Dean Dome when King Rice held Bobby Hurley to something like 1 assist and 10 turnovers leading to a 19 point win and Hurley in tears). The double-overtime victory at Cameron in 1995 is the game that most people remember best and certainly it was one of the most incredible games I can recall, but it's not my favorite - in no small part because we should have blown them out that year. Guys older then me will point to the early 60's game where Art Heyman and Larry Brown both got ejected for brawling (and I understand this was more than just throwing a couple of punches!). I hadn't move to North Carolina yet in time for the "Greatest Comeback Ever" - the 8-points-in-17-seconds home OT win with the 30 foot Sweet D bank shot capping the comeback and sending the game into overtimer.
No, the game that I remember most fondly (as with much of Carolina basketball, with a little bittersweet) was the final regular season game in 1984. UNC was trying to cap an undefeated ACC regular season, having previously lost only to Arkansas in a non-conference game. It was Senior Day for Sam Perkins and Matt Doherty and I think we all knew it was likely Michael Jordan's last game as well. This was also a team that featured Brad Daugherty, Kenny Smith and sharpshooter Buzz Peterson - it was really no surprise that they were in that position. But this was also the beginning of Duke's Coach K years with the core of the team that would be in the Final Four a couple of years later having had a year of experience under their belts. Mark Alarie and Johnny Dawkins both had good games as I recall and it took a downcourt pass and a 15 foot jumper from (of all people on that team) Matt Doherty to put the game into overtime. I watched the game at my friend Dirk's house and spent a good part of it on the front porch listening as I couldn't bear to watch. I don't have his stats but I remember this as being Matt Doherty's best game of his career. We blew them out in the second OT and finished the regular season undefeated, but of course went on to lose to Dook the next weekend in the ACC Tournament and then to Indiana in the Big Dance, making this team consistently ranked as the best UNC team ever NOT to win the NCAA (and therefore the most disappointing team). But man, what a game!!