Duke Blue Devils vs. North Carolina Tar Heels: Who's the King of Tobacco Road?
On Saturday night, North Carolina has a shot to upset No. 3 Duke and finish tied for second in the ACC.
That would really irk the Blue Devils.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski passed North Carolina legendary coach Dean Smith on Tuesday for the second-most wins in NCAA history at one school, recording his 880th win at Duke.
That must really irk the Tar Heels.
Everything is a competition for Duke and North Carolina, two neighbors separated by eight miles of Tobacco Road. As rivalries go, this is as heated as any. Many would call it the best.
But which has the better program?
If bigger is better, then the Smith Center wins this round. It seats 21,750 compared to only 9,314 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Walking into an empty Cameron feels like entering an old high school gym. It's that small. It's that dated. But it's also got a charm that the Dean Dome cannot touch.
North Carolina is 339-59 in the Dean Dome since it opened in January 1986. Duke is 800-153 at Cameron since it opened in January 1940.
North Carolina has won a higher percentage of its games (.852 to .839) at its current home, but atmosphere and aura wins out here for Cameron over anything the Smith Center can deliver.
Michael Jordan vs. Christian Laettner
When it is framed like this—simply Jordan vs. Laettner—the winner would have to be the Tar Heels, right?
Only we are not talking about who is the better legend or was the better player. This is simply the greatest moment in the history of each program.
North Carolina's most famous moment was His Airness rising from the left wing in 1982, the first of many famous shots he would hit in his career.
Michael Jordan beat Georgetown and gave Dean Smith his first title. The shot also introduced Jordan to the basketball world.
Christian Laettner's shot did not come in a national championship game—it was a regional final—but it allowed his team to survive and ultimately win its second straight title.
The shot is forever ingrained in most hoop fans minds, and if it's not, you've probably seen it in a commercial. Grant Hill throws the long baseball pass to Laettner at the free-throw line, Laettner catches, leans right, takes one dribble and turns over his left shoulder to swish the shot of a lifetime.
Jordan would have more shots. Laettner would too. But Laettner's is the one we remember best.
This one is not really a debate. It is easy to measure.
Duke's NCAA national titles: 1991, 1992, 2001 and 2010.
North Carolina's NCAA national titles: 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009.
Five rings beats everything but the thumb.
Advantage: North Carolina
North Carolina can claim the all-time wins crown here with 2,087 compared to 1,997 for Duke.
If we're simply going by wins, Duke can now claim to have the greatest coach of all time. Coach K has more wins than any Division I coach.
These programs are much more than just one coach, however, so the final tally is what should matter.
Advantage: North Carolina
We're tied 2-2, and neither fanbase is going to accept a tie, although that's exactly what we will have in the ACC if North Carolina wins Saturday night.
Coach K owns a 38-37 advantage over the Heels, and he has won 11 of the 20 meetings since Roy Williams took over at UNC.
Overall, it's the Heels that have the edge at 132-103.
Sorry, Blue Devils. This is more than just the coaches, and you still have some catching up to do.
Overall Winner: North Carolina
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