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Coping With a Duke National Title

Needless to say this season for a UNC fan could be called the worst case scenario. A year ago we were all in Blue Heaven. UNC won a 2nd national title in five years. Roy Williams seemingly had a train rolling that no one was going to slow down. In fact we were all so drunk with expectations having been intoxicated by the wonder of the 2006 season that we figured more returning players and a nice incoming class meant a bigger return. It did not turn out that way as the Heels ended up finishing 2nd in the NIT and much worse Duke won the national title.

I imagine had this been a loaded Duke team, we might be coping with it a little better. After all when you look at 1991, 1992 and 2001 those Duke teams had elite talent the played at an elite level. Some folks downgrade 1991 but that team was simply a younger version of 1992 which is considered one of the better college teams in the modern era. An elite Duke team would be easier to stomach winning a title.

This was not one of those teams. If you have listened all season long, you have heard the same mantra over and over: Duke is not capable of winning a national title. They don't have the interior game. They are too dependent on the three point shot. Jon Scheyer is good at PG but will be exposed against an elite PG like Sherron Collins or John Wall. The list of reasons went on and on. So yeah, it is frustrating to watch a team no one thought could win it actually end up winning. Frustrating that Duke got an easier regional then watch as the teams that could beat Duke in a Final Four, lose. Frustrating that Duke's starting frontcourt was Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek. Yeah, that last one really blows your mind doesn't it? It is annoying Roy is back to trailing K by two titles. It grates the nerves to have the 5-3 lead in NCAA titles cut to one.

So it sucks to have Duke get the attention UNC got last season. It is not fun to deal with obnoxious Duke fans beating their chests and possibly humping said chests with other Duke fans.

And you know what the ugly truth in all of this is?

It is good for business where the rivalry is concerned.

UNC fans set their will against Duke because they are the greatest enemy. I do not subscribe to the "good for the ACC" mentality. The UNC-Duke rivalry supersedes all of that. If it didn't, then I think it would be just like any other. No, I subscribe to the Campbell Doctrine which says you pull for Duke to lose by 50-60 or on a shot at the buzzer. I want to see heartbreak or humiliation inflicted on Duke when they take the court. That is the rivalry. However, it is not enough to simply hate for the sake of hate. Doing that is basically being an NC State fan. The hate between UNC and Duke is not simply about slinging vitriol at your greatest enemy. There are stakes involved. Really big ones. UNC and Duke don't just trade wins or conference titles. They trade national titles. UNC and Duke engage in the ultimate back and forth, can you top this duel on the national stage. 1991-92 Duke wins two titles, UNC answers in 1993. Duke wins in 2001. UNC wins in 2005 and 2009. Duke responds in 2010. No two teams can attest to that kind of slugfest. It has been this way now for 20 years now and shows no sign of letting up. During this decade there have been some pendulum swings. It rode up in Duke's favor until 2005 when it swung back to UNC. Now it appears to have swung back in Duke's direction. The question is how far will it go up before it swings back? Does it really matter?

Yes, Duke won the title in 2010. This is their moment after five years of watching UNC enjoy two of them. The Heels take a step back for one season but anyone who knows Roy Williams also knows he will be back. The Heels will be back while Duke appears to have righted their own ship. The best rivalry in college sports just proved once again why it carries that distinction. My advice therefore is to endure, let them have their moment and rest in the historical knowledge that this too shall pass.