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Vitale Will Not Call UNC-Duke Game Wednesday Night

For the first time since joining ESPN in 1979, Dick Vitale will not be on the network's call of the Carolina-Duke basketball game.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

If it seems like Dick Vitale has been calling UNC-Duke basketball games on ESPN since Larry Brown and Art Heyman mixed it up, you're not far off. And for the first time in well over 30 years, Vitale will not be on the call for the Tar Heels and Blue Devils.

Vitale's voice is synonymous with ESPN's sometimes hyperbolic coverage of the UNC-Duke basketball rivalry, as he has been the analyst for every game the Worldwide Leader has broadcast since 1979. For the past few years Vitale has shared the call with ESPN's A-team of Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas, but this week Shulman and Bilas will be on their own.

Earlier this season ESPN installed Bilas as their lead analyst for Saturday primetime while Vitale has roamed the country working various games with other announcers. But Vitale has shown up with his old partners from time to time, so it is intriguing that the WWL would pull Vitale for the game for which he is perhaps best known.

Carolina partisans may be relieved that "Dookie V" will not be on the broadcast, but his praide of UNC rubs ABCers just as raw sometimes. Vitale is a basketball broadcasting institution but has not seemed as sharp or insightful in recent years, as his analysis has given way to more cheerleading. Still it just won't seem quite right without Dickie V on the call, and is yet another sign of the changing winds of sports media.