North Carolina Loves College Basketball

If you’re moving to North Carolina for Elon’s iMedia program there are a few things you need to know about our great state, like how our BBQ is better than anyone else’s.  But the most important thing that North Carolinians obsess over is college basketball.  ACC basketball, to be specific.  North Carolina has what is called the “Big Four,” which is made up of Duke, UNC, N.C. State and Wake Forest.  Before the ACC expanded to include Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech, all Big Four teams played each other twice a year, once at home and once on the road.  But the biggest rivalry among the Big Four, ACC, college basketball and all of sports is Duke v. UNC.

DUKE v. UNC – The Tobacco Road rivalry.  Duke and UNC are only separated by eight miles, which is just one of the reasons it’s the greatest rivalry in sports.  It’s a fact.  Here are some statistics to back up my claim:

  • Duke and UNC have won two of the past three national titles and four of the past 11
  • Either Duke or UNC has been in five of the past eight final fours and 22 of the past 31
  • Duke has been ranked #1 in the nation in 91 weeks since 1990 (tops), UNC is second
  • Duke and UNC have alternated victories in the last 11 meetings in the Dean Dome
    • Average score of those 11 games: Duke 78 UNC 77
    • Have met 44 times while both teams have been ranked in top 10 – record is 22-22
    • UNC (107) and Duke (96) have won a combined 203 NCAA tourney games
    • This year (2012) Austin Rivers made the first-ever game-winning buzzer-beater in Duke-UNC history (

Duke Blue Devils – History:  Duke has been a force to be reckoned with in college basketball since coach Mike Krzyzewski took over in 1980.  Duke has won four national titles under Coach K, tied for second in NCAA history behind UCLA.  Duke was the first team to win back-to-back titles in 1991 and ’92 since UCLA’s John Wooden teams in the 1970s.  This past season Coach K became college basketball’s all-time wins leader, surpassing his former coach and mentor Bob Knight with 903 wins (he currently sits at 927 wins. Visit for more).  Duke has won 10 of the last 14 ACC Tournaments and 13 total under Coach K (which, despite what UNC coaches, players and fans say, is the real ACC Championship, NOT the ACC Regular Season, which Duke has won 12 times).  Duke currently has the most alums in the NBA at 16, and has a record 16 lottery picks.  Duke is also associated with what some call the greatest college basketball game ever played.  In 1992 Duke defeated Kentucky 104-103 in overtime of the Elite 8.  Christian Laettner (one of the best and most hated college players ever) hit the most famous buzzer-beater in the history of the game (

2011-2012 Season:

  • Won the Maui Invitational by beating Tennessee, Michigan and Kansas
  • Coach K recorded win #903 for most all-time in men’s basketball with a win over Michigan State.
  • The Blue Devils were ranked in the Top 10 the entire season and spent most of February in the Top 5.
  • Defeated UNC 85-85 on an Austin Rivers 3-point buzzer-beater after overcoming a 10-point deficit with just over two minutes to play.
  • Ryan Kelly sprained foot before the ACC tournament – did not play rest of year.
  • Lost to FSU in ACC Semis 62-59.
  • Lost first game of NCAA Tournament to Lehigh 75-70, marking the first time Duke lost back-to-back games in three years.
  • Final Record: 27-7, (13-3).

Outgoing Players:  (Graduating) Miles Plumlee; (NBA) Austin Rivers; (maybe-NBA) Mason Plumlee.

Incoming Players:  Rasheed Sulaimon, Alex Murphy (red shirt), Marshall Plumlee (red shirt).

UNC Tar Heels – History:  The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill boasts one of the other greatest coaches (and programs) of all-time in Dean Smith.  UNC has a total of five national championships, with two coming under Dean Smith and two under his former assistant, Roy Williams.  UNC has seen some of the best college basketball players in the history of the game come through Chapel Hill, including Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player to ever play the game.  Jordan hit the go ahead shot with 15 seconds left against Georgetown to win the 1982 national championship and give Dean Smith his first title (  Eleven years later Smith won his second championship when his Tar Heels defeated Michigan and the “Fab Five” in the title game. Roy Williams took over the coaching reigns from Matt Doherty who had left the program in shambles.  In his second year Williams transformed the team into the 2005 national champions, beating Illinois.  Williams won his second title in 2009 with an all-star lineup including Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough, the ACC’s all-time leading scorer.  UNC currently has 12 alums in the NBA and a second-best 15 lottery picks in the draft.

2011-2012 Season:

  • Pre-season #1 – expected to win national championship.
  • Worst loss under Roy Williams in January at FSU, losing by 33 points.
  • Lost to Duke 85-84 in the Dean Dome on an Austin Rivers buzzer-beater.
  • UNC won its last seven games and beat Duke in Durham to win the ACC Regular Season Championship.
  • Lost to FSU in the ACC Tournament championship 85-82.
  • #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region
  • In the round of 32 UNC defeated Creighton, but lost point guard Kendall Marshall to a fractured wrist.
  • Lost to Kansas 80-67 in the Elite 8.
  • Final Record: 32-6, (14-2)

Outgoing Players:  (Graduating) Tyler Zeller; (NBA) John Henson, Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall; (maybe-NBA) James McAdoo

Incoming Players:  Marcus Paige, J.P. Tokoto, Joel James, Brice Johnson

N.C. State Wolfpack – History:  It’s been a while since NC State has been relevant in college basketball, but they are starting to turn the corner.  They made it to the Sweet 16 of this year’s NCAA tournament after not making the tournament the previous six years.  They also have one of the top recruiting classes in the nation coming in next year with three McDonald’s All Americans and could be favored to win the ACC.  NC State had its most successful years in the 1970s and early 1980s when they were coached by Norm Sloan and Jim Valvano, also known as Jimmy V.  NC State won its first national championship in 1974 under coach Norm Sloan.  They team featured David Thompson, one of the ACC’s and NCAA’s all-time greats.  In 1983 Valvano led State to its second title by beating Houston’s “Phi Slama Jama,” which included future NBA Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.  This is the only national championship game won on a buzzer-beater, which occurred on an air-balled deep 3 from Dereck Whittenburg that found the hands of Lorenzo Charles for a dunk as time ran out (

2011-2012 Season: 

  • Started season 6-4 in first 10 games.
  • Defeated by Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium after holding a 20-point lead with 10 minutes to go in the game.
  • Lost four out of their last six ACC regular season games.
  • Made it to ACC Tournament Semifinals against UNC, where they lost by one possession on a controversial no-call.
  • Upset San Diego State and Georgetown as an 11-seed in the first two rounds of NCAA Tournament.
  • Lost to Kansas in the Sweet 16, 60-57.
  • Final Record: 24-13, (9-7)

Outgoing Players: (Graduating) Alex Johnson, C.J. Williams; (maybe-NBA) C.J. Leslie.

Incoming Players:  Rodney Purvis, Tyler Lewis and T.J. Warren.

 Wake Forest Demon Deacons – History:  Wake Forest has fallen on hard times lately.  The ‘90s saw teams that included players like Randolph Childress, who owns the greatest performance for an entire ACC Tournament (, and Tim Duncan.  The 1994-95 and 95-96 teams won two of Wake’s four ACC Tournament championships.  In the 2000s Wake had strong teams that included Chris Paul, Justin Gray and Eric Williams, but couldn’t make it past the Sweet 16.  However, they did win the 2003 ACC Regular Season championship.  The university’s only Final Four appearance came in 1962.  They have had several coaching changes in the past few years, which was sparked by the sudden death of coach Skip Prosser.  This has led to inconsistency and numerous player transfers after Jeff Bzdelik took over for Dino Gaudio.

2011-2012 Season:

  • Abysmal (which is better than they were last year).
  • Final Record: 13-18, (4-12)

Incoming Players:  Codi Miller-McIntyre, Arnaud Moto, Aaron Rountree, Tyler Cavanaugh, Devin Thomas, Andre Washington

Outgoing Players: (Graduating) Ty Walker & Nikita Mescherlakov; (Transfers) Carson Desrosiers, Anthony Fields and Tony Chennault

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