When the North Carolina Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils go toe to toe, there is always going to be a great amount of intensity, excitement and a generally great game to be played. Each of these things turned out to be true on Thursday night as UNC came back from a seven-point deficit at halftime to beat Duke 74-66, effectively cementing a spot in the NCAA tournament in the process.
And while the on-court play during the game provided plenty of great storylines, it is what the fans did at the Dean Dome after the game that was the most surprising.
In a scene that seemed better set for a mid-major arena than the Dean Dome, UNC fans rushed the floor after the final buzzer went off, which is an embarrassment to the school. This is both because the win in this instance was not a true surprise to anyone who has paid attention to college basketball in recent weeks, and history has shown us that these two teams should be expected to beat each other whenever they face off.
During the current season, UNC is 19-7 overall and 9-4 in the ACC, and boast victories against Louisville, Michigan State, Kentucky and now Duke. This type of resume should make no victory a surprise at this point in the season, and a win streak that now reads eight should only further the fact that the Tar Heels should be expected to win every game they play the rest of the way.
Of course this isn’t to say the team is perfect — just look at their free-throw ability, or lack thereof — but they have great team-wide talent, a world-class coach in Roy Williams and are now looking to have come together as a team.
Aside from just being effective during the current season, UNC has actually had the leg up on Duke throughout history, albeit by a relatively small margin. They have won 10 more ACC regular-season titles than Duke, lead the head-to-head all-time record 134-104, and they lead in all-time NCAA national championships 5-4. The Tar Heels aren’t exactly the big brother in the rivalry, but they could be regarded as being historically better, if only by the slightest margin.
For a school that has won three NCAA national championships just over the last 10 years and which boasts Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Bob McAdoo and Vince Carter amongst its historical ranks, only beating an NBA team should bring about the fans rushing the court at the Dean Dome.
Clearly, Williams identified this as he took his team straight to the locker room after the post-game handshake, and was having none of the juvenile tactics that his school’s fans were displaying. One can only hope that he goes about condemning UNC fans, and that the school becomes a bit more classy in celebrating wins moving forward.