Duke-North Carolina: The Greatest Rivalry in Sports

John LombardSenior Analyst IFebruary 4, 2008

The University of North Carolina Tar Heels and Duke University Blue Devils share the best rivalry in the world of sports. 

These two powerhouse programs have the first of two regular season meetings this Wednesday in Chapel Hill. 

The Tar Heels are currently ranked No. 3 in the country and the Dukies are No. 2.

This is the first time they have both been ranked in the top five during a regular season meeting in many years. 

The Tar Heels starting point guard Ty Lawson went down with an injury during the Heels win against Florida State on Sunday. 

Roy Williams isn't optimistic about Lawson's chances of playing in the anticipated rivalry game.  He said they will evaluate Lawson's condition after Tuesday's practice. 

The Tar Heels have already lost backup guard Bobby Frasor for the season so the PG position is thin.  

Third stringer Quinton Thomas will have to go for UNC if Lawson is unable to play.

The Tar Heels strategy should be a healthy dose of Tyler Hansbrough, Deon Thompson, and Alex Stephenson. The Dukies don't have much for size in their bigs and the Heels have an obvious advantage in the paint and should look to exploit it. 

Duke will need to have a good night shooting the rock from the outside to stay with the up-tempo Tar Heels offense.  My prediction for this year's series is a season split with the home team winning during the regular season.

They will likely meet again in the ACC championship game and wherever the game is played should have an impact on the winner.  To win the ACC, UNC might have to sweep the Blue Devils to pull ahead of them in the conference.  I don't see Duke losing during conference play to anyone but UNC so if they can split with the Heels they will likely win the ACC. 

The game on Wednesday is much bigger for UNC then Duke, however.

If they can overcome Lawson's injury and pull out a win it will set a up huge match-up in Durham on March 8, the last game of the regular season.  

It will be interesting to see how Duke's freshmen Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith play in the first "big game" of their careers. 

Singler is going to have a tough task if he's asked to defend one of the Tar Heels' big men.  

My favorite part of the sports year is almost ready for Act One. 

This is going to be one of the best UNC/Duke series in a long time.  With both teams ranked in the top three, who is going to step up?  Who is going to fall to the pressure of "Thee Rivalry" in sports? 

Tar Heel and Blue Devil fans across the country will be watching attentively on Wednesday in the biggest game of the NCAA basketball season thus far.