One of college basketball's most storied rivalries takes center stage in the Final Four as the 2-seeded Duke Blue Devils face the 8-seeded North Carolina Tar Heelson Saturday in New Orleans. It will be the first time the two schools meet in the NCAA tournament.
Duke and North Carolina have played each other 257 times, with UNC holding the advantage 142-115, per ESPN Stats & Information. The teams split the regular-season series this season. On Feb. 5, the Blue Devils won 87-67 in Chapel Hill, but North Carolina spoiled Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski's final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium a month later94-81.
Entering Saturday's contest, Duke-North Carolina is the most common ranked matchup (85 times) since the AP poll era began in 1948-49, per ESPN Stats & Information. It's also the most common top-10 (48 times) and top-five (13) matchup.
Before both teams hit the hardwood in the Final Four, let's relive some of the more memorable moments from this historic rivalry:
March 2, 1974: Eight points in 17 seconds
UNC won the first two meetings against Duke in 1973-74 and looked for the trifecta in its regular-season finale. Even though Duke was 10-14 at the time, it gave North Carolina all it could handle. The Blue Devils were on the verge of defeating the Tar Heels, holding an eight-point lead with 17 seconds left.
North Carolina miraculously erased the deficit to force overtime, aided by an epic collapse by Duke. Tar Heel forward Bobby Jones hit two free throws to cut the lead to six. UNC stole the following inbounds pass from the Blue Devils for another score. Jones forced another Duke turnover and scored a putback on the Tar Heels' next possession. After Blue Devils forward Pete Kramer missed the front end of a one-and-one and a North Carolina timeout, UNC guard Walter Davis made a tough jumper as time expired to force overtime.
UNC completed the comeback effort with a 96-92 win thanks to Davis, Ray Hite and Brad Hoffman's contributions in the extra period. The Tar Heels' come-from-behind victory was more impressive because there was no 3-point line at the time.
Feb. 5, 1992: The 'Bloody Montross' game
The Blue Devils were ranked No. 1 and undefeated (17-0) heading into their matchup with the Tar Heels. UNC played tough against its rivals and the game had 10 lead changes in the first half.
After the Tar Heels' 10-0 run to start the second half, the game became a defensive slugfest. Duke held UNC without a field goal for the final 9 minutes of the contest. But the Tar Heels thrived at the charity stripe during that stretch, hitting 12 of 14 attempts. Point guard Derrick Phelps hit two foul shots with 44.5 seconds left to give North Carolina the lead. The Blue Devils had a chance to tie, but forward Christian Laettner missed two attempts in the final moments. The Tar Heels shocked the No. 1 team in the country 75-73.
The contest was physical, and former North Carolina player Eric Montross has the scars to prove it.
The 7-footer suffered a cut to the right side of his head that required stitches. Late in the second half, he suffered another cut to the left side of his face that needed another set of stitches. Despite the injuries, Montross scored 12 points with nine rebounds in 28 minutes, including clutch free throws late with blood running down his face.
Fun fact: North Carolina coach Hubert Davis played in this game, scoring 16 points. He was a guard for the Tar Heels from 1988 to 1992, according to the school's website.
Feb. 2, 1995: Capel's game-tying heave and Stackhouse's posterizing dunk
This contest makes a strong case for the best game between the Blue Devils and Tar Heels. North Carolina came out fast on a 26-9 run, capped by Jerry Stackhouse's spectacular jam over two Duke players. However, Krzyzewski's crew didn't roll over and cut the lead to five before halftime.
After the break, Duke continued to close the gap and took the lead midway through the second half. UNC showed resilience and battled back from nine down with 6:18 in regulation to force overtime. In the extra session, the Tar Heels led by as much as nine before Duke made four 3-pointers, one of them being Jeff Capel's 30-foot shot as time expired to help Duke force a second overtime.
Crucial shots by North Carolina's Donald Williams and a key steal by Jeff McInnis in double OT helped the Tar Heels escape with a 102-100 win. The 202 combined points scored are the most in a UNC/Duke game.
March 9, 2003: Duke's Andre Buckner shoves UNC coach Matt Doherty
After Duke defeated North Carolina in its first matchup of the 2002-03 season, the Tar Heels exacted revenge the next time they met. They upset the then-No. 10 Blue Devils 82-79, led by 26 points from Rashad McCants and 18 from Raymond Felton. The Tar Heels shot 56% from the field and held Duke to 5-of-23 shooting from 3-point range.
However, an altercation with 8:17 left to play drew more attention than the game.
Felton was injured after being hit in the face by Duke's Dahntay Jones. Tar Heels head coach Matt Doherty walked on the court to check on his player near the Blue Devils' bench. As he helped Felton up, Duke assistant Chris Collins began jawing at him. A shouting match ensued and then Blue Devils guard Andre Buckner pushed Doherty.
"Things got a little heated there,'' Doherty said. "That happens, that's part of it. But I thought as crazy as things got both teams settled down and Coach Krzyzewski handled it with a lot of class.''
The ACC later reprimanded Collins, Doherty and Buckner for their roles in the incident.
Feb. 8, 2012: Austin Rivers' game-winning buzzer-beater
UNC was on a school-record 31-game home winning streak when Duke came to town in February 2012. The Blue Devils started hot from deep, hitting eight 3s in the first half. However, the Tar Heels, led by Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes, withstood the early onslaught and led by two at the half.
North Carolina came out of the break on a 14-4 run and led Duke 82-72 with 2:38 left in the game.
Coach K's squad didn't give up, though. Duke outscored UNC 13-2 in the final 2 minutes, led by freshman guard Austin Rivers. He made six 3s in the contest, his last one over the outstretched arms of Zeller as time expired to elevate his team to an 85-84 victory. He scored 29 points in the game, a record for a Blue Devils freshman against North Carolina.
"This is my favorite win I've ever had in my entire life," Rivers said. "And it's because we were down the whole game. ... We just kept fighting. To get a W, it's amazing."
March 5, 2022: UNC spoils Coach K's final home game
Krzyzewski, after 42 years, is retiring after the season. It was only right that his final home game came against rival UNC. With numerous festivities, tributes and emotions running high, the Tar Heels played the role of party pooper on Coach K's special day.
Four out of five UNC starters scored 20 points or more, with forwardArmando Bacotleading the way with 23. North Carolina shot 59% from the field in the second half compared to Duke's 42%. The Tar Heels' shooting surge after the break helped them upset the then-fourth-ranked Blue Devils 94-81 and spoil coach Krzyzewski's final home game. It was the first time an unranked UNC squad defeated a top-five Duke team in Cameronsince 1990.
Coach K didn't hold back how he felt about his team's performance in his postgame speech.
After taking down their rivals, UNC coach Hubert Davis embraced his players in the locker room.