The pregame fervor for Wednesday night's clash between the North Carolina Tar Heels and No. 2 Duke Blue Devils may not be at its apex in the mainstream, but that doesn't make the in-state rivalry any less heated for those involved.
It seems like Duke's mascot found that out the hard way.
According to Mark Armstrong of WTVD-TV in Raleigh, the stolen head of a Blue Devils mascot was found hoisted on a pole on the University of North Carolina campus on Wednesday:
In one of the legendary pranks the two schools are known to play on each other, someone took the head of the Duke mascot and placed it on a stake above the UNC campus store Wednesday.
Unfortunately for the pranksters, stealing the head won't have any adverse effects on the Blue Devils' ability to cheer up the fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium. School officials told WTVD-TV that the pranksters actually stole a backup head for the mascot. Police are also currently investigating the incident and returned the mascot head to Duke earlier in the afternoon.
Despite not having an embarrassing effect on Duke, North Carolina undoubtedly has the upper hand in the 2012-13 prank battle between the schools. Most pranks are mundane and done in good fun, but also add enough spice to the rivalry to make it one of the nation's best.
How far will Duke make it in 2013?
North Carolina may have gotten a leg up on the pranks, but the team could struggle to stick around on the floor. This year's Tar Heels are one of the worst teams of the Roy Williams era thus far, and they head into Wednesday's clash at just 16-7 (6-4 ACC).
Mike Krzyzewski's squad, on the other hand, is considered one of the mid-February favorites to cut down the net in April. The Blue Devils, led by a strong stable of veteran talent, are 21-2 (8-2 ACC) and have spent the entire season looking down upon their heated rival.
Duke may have a more talented team and a better record heading into Wednesday's game, but at least North Carolina fans can take solace in having the advantage in the prank battle—for now.