Last night another chapter was written in what many consider to be the best rivalry in college basketball and one of the best in all of sports: Duke vs. North Carolina.
The two teams, separated by eight miles and a shade of blue, as the saying goes, never fail to bring their A-game to this pivotal ACC matchup.
Last night was no different. Adding to the fire between the bitter rivals, were the implications of last night's game. Duke, currently sitting at number two in the land, looked to solidify its ranking as one of the nation's best.
Both teams were looking to avoid just their second loss of the season. North Carolina hoped to keep pace with the Devils for the number one spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference. With supremacy in the ACC and nationally on the line, it seemed to be one of those instances where the game can't possibly live up to the hype. Fans watching the game however, were not disappointed.
The Tar Heels jumped out to a quick early lead and appeared unstoppable. Duke was being outplayed. Hansborough seemed to alter every shot, score every time he touched the ball, and beat the Devils to every rebound or loose ball.
Duke did settle down though, and caught fire from downtown. Timely threes put Duke ahead and distanced them from NC nearly every time the Heels made a run.
Duke somewhat contained Tyler Hansborough and even though he ended up with 28 points and 18 rebounds, Duke limited his three-point plays. Hansborough shot just 4-9 from the charity stripe and never was able to lift his team over the deadly sharpshooting of Duke. Paulus finished 6-8 from 3 and Singler added three of his own deep shots pacing Duke's 13-29 three-point shooting.
Duke eventually won 89-78.
The Blue Devils now are two games up on the Tar Heels for the ACC lead, and barring an upset by BC, Maryland, Wake Forest, Miami, Georgia Tech, NC State, or Virginia, the ACC title will go to Duke. They also have proven themselves worthy of their number two ranking and will be one of the teams to beat come March.
Games like last night's leave fans with no choice but to look forward to the next one. Luckily for us, the two play again in the regular season finale on March 8th.
I, for one, can't wait.