Duke and North Carolina Managers Square Off Night Before Historic Match-Up

By Sean Labar
Duke UNC
Mark Dolejs- USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, The Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tarheels will square off in one of the truly great rivalries in all of sports.

There ACC and NCAA tournament implications on the line and most importantly, the pride of being deemed the best college basketball team in the Carolinas. Nights like this remind me just how much I love NCAA hoops.

But there was a different story line that caught my attention heading into tonight’s showdown. This isn’t about the coaches and their unbelievable careers, or how the Tarheels are getting hot at the right time. This isn’t about Mason Plumlee’s dominating season, or the return of Ryan Kelly to the Blue Devils’ starting line-up.

Nope, this one is about the managers. Yes I said it, the Duke students that fill the water bottles and wipe the sweat off of Seth Curry’s forehead, or the Carolina kids that prepare a bag of ice for Dexter Strickland’s sore leg.

One of the annual traditions of this historic game is a match-up between each school’s managers, taking place the night before the Blue Devils and Tarheels take the court.

In the first contest this season, the Duke managers hit a three-point buzzer beater to steal the show at Cameron Indoor Stadium. But last night was the rematch at the Dean Dome, and just like any heated rivalry, this one didn’t disappoint.

The Carolina managers had a 60-49 lead with just seconds remaining, when a Duke male manager decided to go against any gentleman-like standards and steal the ball from a female Tarheel to snag his moment of glory.


Well, that didn’t go over well.

Personally I agree with both sides. I can’t chastise the Duke manager for stealing the ball — with a rivalry this brutal, do we really expect students to uphold normal etiquette?

That said, I absolutely love the blind-side tackle handed out by one of the male Carolina managers. He made it clear those kind of antics won’t fly in their house, and threw it down Ray Lewis style.

It is safe to say the Duke/North Carolina rivalry is going strong, and we can only hope that the players tonight will show the same passion and pride that the managers did.


Follow this writer on twitter@SeanLabar

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