"Crazies" For Our Team: Duke Tops List of Fan Bases in North Carolina

Tyler Lambert@@Tblamb2you2Senior Analyst INovember 28, 2009

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 11:  The Cameron Crazies taunt the North Carolina Tar Heels before they face the Duke Blue Devils on February 11, 2009 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin Cox/Getty Images

Basketball, Football, Baseball and Men’s and Women’s Soccer are just a few of the sports that any university in the country would take great pride. With each of these sports, however, come rivals that show up again and again on the yearly sport schedules. The rivalry of Tobacco Road, which consists of the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels, is one of the most noted throughout the country. 

Year in and year out, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels face off in every imaginable sport known to man.

The battle on the hardwood, the struggle between Hall-of-Fame coaches Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Roy Williams of North Carolina, is one of the most note-worthy matchups in the country throughout the year.

But I’m not here to discuss this epic battle due to take place later on in the year. I’m not even here to discuss the universities as a whole. No, I’m here to discuss the fans of both the Blue Devils and Tar Heels. I might even throw in the fans of the Wolf Pack at NC State as well.

Located in the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, the three universities are separated by less than 30 minutes round-trip. This makes for great rivalries, short away games, and a large fan base throughout the great state of North Carolina.

Let’s start off with the Wolf Pack of NC State.

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Found in the center of Raleigh, North Carolina, is North Carolina State University. Home to the beloved Wolf Pack, NC State is home to one of the largest, if not largest, fan bases in the entire state. What makes NC State such a desirable team to root for?

NC State is noted for their hustle and rough play.

On the football field, the Wolf Pack are guaranteed to put up a fight and challenge the ball handlers of the opposing team by hustling up and down the turf. That hustle may not always translate into wins, but it does guarantee a fan base full of proud supporters who will cheer on the Pack even through difficult times.

Hustle and tenacity can also describe the NC State Basketball Program.  

On the hardwood, the Pack has struggled through the years. Having difficulty finding their way once ACC play begins has played a large part in their downfall, although injuries and players departing early for the NBA can also contribute to their inability to win.

The Pack, led by coach Sidney Lowe, are an always dangerous team to upset some of the heavy-weights in the ACC, although even winning against lesser competition is now coming at a premium.

Athletics at NC State are now dramatically on a rise. With younger, more talented recruits finding their way to Raleigh, the teams are now beginning to find success off and on the court. Winning may not always come easy, but one thing is for sure: NC State will always supply one of the largest and loudest fan bases in the country.

Fan Base Grade: B+

When hasn’t the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill be considered one of the top athletic universities in the country? Throughout the years, UNC has been a trademark of consistency and winning. The fan base of the Tar Heels has also been consistent as well, showing up to every athletic competition in massive groups.

The football program, led by coach Butch Davis, has slowly taken off in the past few seasons. Led by NFL-talent galore and an upstart coach, the Tar Heels have excelled in every aspect of the game since Davis arrived in Chapel Hill.

They have also owned the in-state rivals as well. Although NC State provided a bump in the road last season when they went into Chapel Hill and upset the Tar Heels, 41-10, UNC has been the most consistent football team in the Triangle area over the last five years.

When it comes to the basketball program, however, there is no need in comparing the Tar Heels to the Wolf Pack. UNC has one of the most historic and successful programs in the country, and that success has kept rolling the past few seasons under coach Williams.

When Williams arrived in Chapel Hill after leaving Kansas, many Tar Heel fans were prepared to see where he would lead the program. Needless to say, after winning the 2005 and 2009 NCAA Championships at UNC, Tar Heel fans have their answer.

The fan base showed up to the Final Four and Championship games along the way, giving UNC the home-court feeling it needed to advance and conquer. Although the fans of UNC may sometimes seem to brag about their success, they have reason to as UNC is one of the top athletic universities in the entire country.

Fan Base Grade: A-

Duke University, nestled in historic Durham, is home to one of the most successful athletic programs in the history of the NCAA. The fans have consistently followed the Blue Devils around the country, whether that be for Final Four basketball games or long road trips.

Is there an any more active and loyal fan base in the country?

Rebuilding. That is the word that describes the Duke Football program under second-year head coach David Cutcliffe. After arriving in Durham two years ago, Cutcliffe promised the Blue Devil fans that he would turn the once lowly Duke football team into a well-respected program once again.

That promise was met the first year as the Blue Devils finished the 2008 season at 4-8. The previous two years under former coach Ted Roof, Duke racked up a combined 1-23 record in rout to becoming one of the biggest laughing stocks in all of college football.

This season, expectations grew larger as Duke has a current record of 5-6 heading into their final game of the season versus Wake Forest.  Although the Blue Devils will not be bowl-eligible this season, they have a chance to finish the season above .500 for the first time since 1994.

When it comes to the Duke Basketball program, history is on the side as coach Krzyzewski has shaped Duke into a national powerhouse. Playing their home games in the historic Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Blue Devils are always primed to be one of the top teams in the country and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

The fan turn-out at basketball games is unlike any other. The student section, known as the “Cameron Crazies”, is one of the most well-known fan bases in college basketball today. Whether it be providing the Blue Devils a spark or distracting the opposing teams’ top player, the “Crazies” are guaranteed to play a major part in any home contest.

Coach Krzyzewski, or Coach K, challenges the Duke fan base to come out to games and provide energy for his team. Coach Cutcliffe challenges the Duke fan base to buy tickets to football games and watch the Blue Devils develop into a respected program. The Duke fans have lived up to the billing, and have excelled any expectation that the coaches could ever have imagined.

Fan Base Grade: A+


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