Believe it or not, Duke losing to NC State on Wednesday was a good thing. Yes, for the Wolfpack, of course, but also for the Blue Devils and the ACC as a whole.
First, from an NC State perspective, it gives them, as I heard one fan put it, confidence. NC State had been the doormat of the big four North Carolina ACC schools since the 1990s.
They've had some moderate success but nothing like the days of Everett Case and early Jim Valvano.
They have an extremely loyal yet, at times, fickle and unrealistic fanbase. But those fans are the ones who know what it was like when State was the top dog.
They are passionate, and a passionate fanbase is a good fanbase in my book. That was evident at the RBC Center. Their, at times, sterile arena (when compared to the Old Reynolds Coliseum) was alive and well.
Much of their passion had to do with the hatred of Duke. You could feel the demons of past seasons' losses to the Blue Devils being exorcised.
The State fan sitting next to me was certainly excited and, despite my frustration being a Duke fan, I felt happy for him and the rest of the fans who wildly cheered on the Pack.
So for State, this was a great and rewarding win all around.
For Duke it was a bad loss, considering how they played. If you had to point your finger to a cause for the loss it would be two factors: State couldn't miss from anywhere and Duke couldn't stop them on defense at any point.
The loss does have some positives, though. For one, it helps to renew the rivalry between the two schools that has fallen by the wayside in wake of the recent highly successful runs of Duke and North Carolina.
Duke and NC State used to be a great rivalry, but the one-sided nature had diminished it for Blue Devil fans and made some of them complacent about the game.
This win is a wake-up call to Duke fans and players alike. NC State is an ACC opponent. And not just any opponent, they're a real rival. So you had better bring your A-game.
On Wednesday, the Blue Devils didn't and the better team handed them their butts on a stick.
While it was disappointing to see the older Duke players not bringing the appropriate level of intensity, this game serves as a great eye-opener for the younger players.
Namely the Plumlees, who, after being lauded for great play against Wake Forest, didn't show up against the Wolfpack.
This will teach them a valuable lesson in humility: You don't just show up in ACC games, you have to bring your maximum effort.
The Duke loss is also good for the whole of the ACC.
When you think about the glory days of the ACC, when it was the premiere basketball conference, Duke, NC State, and North Carolina were all playing at a high level. Of course, the other teams weren't all bad either, but those three carried the flag.
Since State has faded from the spotlight, Duke and North Carolina have continued to do a good job of carrying the flag. But the ACC has suffered in those years, especially recently.
Resurgence from the Wolfpack may be just what the doctor ordered to get the ACC back to the top.
Unfortunately for Duke and potentially North Carolina fans, that path appears to go through Durham and Chapel Hill.
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