By R.L. Bynum
Can anything in the best rivalry in sports top Carolina ruining Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final Duke home game?
We may be about to find out when the rivalry heads to New Orleans for a national semifinal at the Final Four on Saturday at about 8:40 p.m. in a reality that is sending the stress levels up for both fanbases.
“I haven’t thought about it at all,” Coach Hubert Davis said of the third game against Duke this season. “The only thing on my mind is celebrating with the rest of the players on what just happened today. Next week will be next week. And we’ll deal with that next week. But right now I don’t want to think about next week and lose the moment of today.”
What will the game mean?
“I don’t really want to answer that right now,” Armando Bacot said. “It’s a good question. But I can’t answer it right now. Coach will get mad at me.”
No matter what happens at the Superdome, Duke will never be able to erase the stain of Krzyzewski losing to UNC in his last Cameron Indoor Stadium game.
But the fanbase of the team that wins on Saturday will never let the other fanbase forget it, particularly if Saturday’s winner goes on to win the national title.
It will be the first postseason game against Duke outside of the ACC Tournament since the Tar Heels beat the Blue Devils 73–67 in the 1971 NIT semifinals on its way to winning the title when that championship meant more.
The visiting team won easily in the two regular-season matchups, with Duke winning 87–67 in Chapel Hill on Feb. 5 and the Tar Heels topping the Blue Devils 94–81 in Durham on March 5.
At Superdome, New Orleans
Saturday’s national semifinals
No. 2 Villanova (30–7) vs. No. 1 Kansas (32–6), 6:09, TBS
No. 2 Duke (32–6) vs. No. 8 North Carolina (28–9), 30 minutes after first semifinal, TBS
Semifinal winners, 9:20, TBS
Photo via @UNC_Basketball