Duke-UNC: ACC Title On the Line Yet Again

John LewisSenior Writer IMarch 7, 2008

Combined 30 out of the last 50 final fours, seven national championships, 31 ACC tournament titles.

For those who have witnessed the Duke-North Carolina rivalries, you know what I'm talking about.

There's been bad blood between these two schools for over 80 years, and for the fifth time in series history, the ACC title and No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday goes to the winner when the No. 1 Tar Heels visit the No. 6 Blue Devils on Saturday night.

Sporting identical 13-2 conference records, the Tar Heels (28-2) and Blue Devils (26-3), separated by an 8-mile stretch of U.S. highway, the Tobacco Road rivals have staged plenty of memorable matchups over the years.

At least a share of the regular season title has been on the line in the finale 11 times, with four previous winner-take-all meetings.  The two are meeting as top-10 teams for the second time this season; the Blue Devils won 89-78 last month in a No. 2-vs-No. 3 matchup. The Tar Heels were lacking much needed starting point guard Ty Lawson in the first meeting. Lawson, the pace setter for North Carolina's fast-paced offense, is looking to enact revenge after missing six games with a sprained left ankle.

The last time the Tar Heels visited Cameron Indoor for Senior Day was the final game for J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams. Hansbrough, a freshman at the time, helped North Carolina shock the top-ranked Blue Devils.

That's what makes this college basketball's best rivalry, between two hardwood juggernauts separated by just eight miles of tobacco country.