UNC vs. Duke: The History of the Big ACC Rivalry

Justin CrawfordCorrespondent IFebruary 7, 2011

CHAPEL HILL, NC - MARCH 9:  Head Coach Mike Krzyzweski of the Duke Blue Devils yells at the official as Rashad McCants #32 of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels watches on March 9, 2003 at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images)
Craig Jones/Getty Images

It is the most storied rivalry in college sports: UNC vs. Duke. I have personally seen many of the games on television, but there was a lot more history written before I was ever born.

This rivalry goes beyond Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski and Dean Smith. The Duke-North Carolina rivalry started around the time basketball was born in the Carolinas.

When basketball was introduced at colleges in the state of North Carolina, it got off to a decent start, but football still ruled supreme in what would become known as Tobacco Road. Then, the four big schools (Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Duke and North Carolina) began playing each other in basketball.

Finally, after some very good matchups and a few trips to the tournaments, fans became interested in the new sport of basketball.

N.C. State's coach, Everett Case, was the first coach to field good teams every year on Tobacco Road. He was the spark, but another coach fulfilled the ultimate goal. 

Frank McGuire, coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels.

He led the 1957 Tar Heels to an undefeated season by winning the National Championship over Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain. Quite literally, since Chamberlain was a giant back in those days.

It was then that the ABC (Anybody But Carolina) crowd was born on Tobacco Road. Carolina was the first to achieve the ultimate goal so they were the ultimate target. 

UNC and Duke had already become a rival, but now the target was on the Heels making the rivalry even greater. N.C State and North Carolina hate each other and continue to be a rivalry, but Duke and North Carolina's rivalry has grown to the proportion we see today because of the continued success of both basketball programs.

All four of the "big schools" had success from time to time back then, but it would not be long before North Carolina and Duke were constantly vying to be the best team in the ACC.

After a scandal, Frank McGuire left the Heels for the NBA, and Dean Smith was named coach. Smith, not a household name at this point, struggled early and knew he had to win the recruiting battle.

McGuire's "underground railroad" from New York was about gone, and Smith had to recruit his own players. Once, Dean Smith won one big recruiting battle against Duke, Larry Miller, he turned North Carolina once again into a powerhouse by showing that he could recruit with Duke.

Now that North Carolina could recruit with Duke, Dean Smith was able to become a legend with his schemes and gimmicks that he introduced to college basketball. Four corners being one of them which would ultimate be the cause for the shot clock. The rivalry which had never really stopped was on like it never was before.

The rivalry back then pitted Dean Smith against Vic Bubas and soon it was Dean Smith vs. another up-and-coming coach, Mike Krzyzewski. Today, it is Mike Krzyzewski against Roy Williams.

Despite, the rivalry beginning year's ago, and becoming more intense throughout the century it has never been greater than it is now. Television has made the rivalry known across the country instead of just in the school's back yard. 

The matchups ensue. Amazing game-winning shots and great determination are just a couple of the things we see in the rivalry every year. Coaches at both schools have laid out master game plans to beat the other. Other times it was just luck.

Since the rivalry began so many years ago, we have been able to enjoy great games every year. Moments like Jeff Capel's half court heave, Jerry Stackhouse's dunk, Eric Montross' bloody nose and Tyler Hansbrough's Cameron wins will be remembered by all that watched.

The North Carolina-Duke rivalry has history and magic. The rivalry will continue. Enjoy and relish the moments that will turn into history.

Follow me on Twitter and for more on UNC check out Tar Heel Post.

Credit for much of the history on the rivalry should be given to Alwyn Featherston's book Tobacco Road which is a must read for ACC fans.