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The best Duke vs UNC games all-time

Carolina’s best victories in Duke vs. UNC Rivalry ranked

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March 12, 1989. UNC 77 Duke 74

In 1989, Coach K told Dean Smith "Go F' yourself Dean" 

This was the rubber match in the ACC Tournament Final at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia.

In the Match-up in February, Duke fans held ups signs reading “J.R Can’t Reid”. An apparent hateful criticism of Carolina player J.R Reid’s intelligence.

After the game, North Carolina head coach Dean Smith let it be known that J.R Reid and Carolina center Scott Williams had better SAT scores than Duke stars Danny Ferry and Christian Laettner.

In this Duke vs. UNC encounter, the Tar Heels won 77-74 on the strength of ACC Tournament MVP J.R Reid’s 14 points and 9 rebounds.

This game is most remembered as the game where Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski told Dean Smith “Fuck You, Dean”.

Mike Krzyzewski jumped off the bench, reacting to the hard contact under the basket. “Hey, 42, that was a dirty foul!” he shouted at UNC center Scott Williams.

On the opposite bench, Dean Smith pulled himself up, clapped his hands and screamed at his adversary, “Don’t talk to my players!”

Coach K glared down the sideline, crinkling his nose and forehead in anger.

“Hey, Dean!” he yelled back. “Fuck you!”

This game had an astonishing 49 fouls called.

February 5, 1992. Duke 73 UNC 75


 This game featured blood and broken bones. The defending national champion Duke Blue Devils were a perfect 17-0 when they faced the Tar Heels at the Dean Smith Center.

People were beginning to believe that this Duke squad was going to be the first team to go undefeated since Bobby Knight’s Indiana in 1976.

After this night all that talk ended. Many remember this game from the blood on UNC center Eric Montross’ face as he stood at the foul line for Carolina.

North Carolina failed to hit a field goal in the final 9:30 minutes of the game but was 12-0f-14 from the foul line during this same stretch.

Christian Laettner missed two free throws with 24 seconds remaining on the clock. Bobby Hurley broke his foot in this game but continued playing.

Eric Montross needed stitches from a blow to the back of his head in the first half and was cut underneath his eye in the second half but he still hit on his free throws at the end of the game. These being the difference in this physical matchup.

March 4, 2006. UNC 83 Duke 71

Freshman Tyler Hansbrough defeated the Blue Devils in the Duke vs UNC game at Cameron in 2006. 

I remember this game like it was last Saturday night. It was J.J Reddick’s Senior Day. North Carolina was coming of winning the first national championship under head coach Roy Williams in 2005.

Freshmen Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green teamed up with championship mainstays Reyshawn Terry and David Noel.

Duke was considered to have the most talent in the country and after losing five players to the NBA, three drafted in the lottery and “Snitch” McCants a first round pick, Carolina was thought to be reloading in 2006.

After coming much closer to winning the first meeting with Duke than many thought possible, UNC traveled to Durham in March and ruined J.J Reddick’s Senior Day.

Duke was ranked first in the country heading into this game before the “Cameron Crazies”, they wouldn’t be afterwards. Tyler Hansbrough dominated this game like he did the first meeting in 2006, despite losing.

March 6, 2005. Duke 73 UNC 75

Marvin Williams scored the game winner in the Duke vs. UNC in 2005. 

Carolina hadn’t won a regular season ACC championship since 1993. It had been twelve years and if Carolina won this Duke vs. UNC game at the Dean Dome, they would be ACC Champions.

Duke was up nine points 73-64 with just over three minutes to play. They wouldn’t score again.

Two offensive cutbacks by Marvin Williams and Jawad Williams cut the Blue Devils lead to five.

The gap was closed to two points when Sean May converted on a three point play, the old-fashioned way.

Next Ray Felton went to the charity stripe and hit his first free throw, cutting the lead to one.

Felton missed the second attempt, followed by a tap to Marvin Williams, who went straight up put the ball in the basket and got fouled. He then converted from the line, giving North Carolina a 75-73 lead.

Following a J.J Reddick miss, the game was over. The Tar Heels were victorious en route to winning their first national championship since 1993.

February 2, 1995. North Carolina 102 Duke 100 (2OT)

Rasheed Wallace tries to get a rebound in the 1995 Duke vs. UNC game at Cameron Indoor Stadium

This is a maddening game in the Duke vs. UNC rivalry. I place the blame mostly on ESPN because they show the Jeff Capel hitting his three pointer.

For years when this came up in conversation, I had to explain that the Capel three-pointer only tied the score and that North Carolina won it in two overtimes.

It’s much easier to explain over the last few years, since everyone has the internet in their pockets. Before this it would get maddening. people just arguing that I was wrong and they see it constantly.

I’d ask them “what makes you assume Duke won that game”? They’d say something like “I saw the play that they won the game on many times”.

“No you didn’t, you saw Capel hit a shot at the buzzer and celebrate like he just won the NCAA Championship”.



I’m a fu***** ass****. Anyway when I’d tell them what they saw and then that I’m positive that Carolina then went on to win the game. They’d usually believe me.

Not always though. Won some money for my frustrations with this game, so I guess it makes up for the madness.

I live in New Jersey, just outside of Philadelphia, so I don’t run into many Carolina fans but when I do and they claim the same nonsense, I’d always challenge if they were actual UNC fans and if so to what extent.

Last year I ran into a post where someone was showing the Capel play and it said something like “One of Duke’s finest victories”. The idiot took it down after I explained how he was embarrassing himself.

Anyway I’m not a huge fan of placing this game here because it shouldn’t have ever been that close. It’s here because I don’t want people asking why it’s not.

March 2, 1974. North Carolina 96 Duke 92 (OT)

Walter Davis hits the game tying shot in the 1974 Duke vs. UNC game at Chapel Hill.

When I first set out to make this list of Duke vs. UNC games, this game was going to be second, that’s until I put more thought into it.

The Tar Heels were down eight points to Duke with 17 seconds remaining in the game at Carmichael Auditorium.

Many people regard this game as the greatest comeback in NCAA Basketball history. Mostly because this was done without a three-point line.

North Carolina was trailing 86-78 with 17 seconds remaining when Bobby Jones hit two free throws.

A steal and another turnover by Carolina led to layups by John Kuester and Jones.

Next, Duke’s Pete Kramer went to the line and missed the front end of a one-and-one.

After controlling the rebound, the Heels called a time-out. the ball was then inbounded to “The Greyhound” Walter Davis, who banked in a thirty footer that forced overtime, where UNC won the game 96-92.

March 5, 2022. UNC 94 Duke 81

North Carolina defeated Duke in Coach K's last Duke vs. UNC game ain Durham.

Duke destroyed North Carolina in Chapel Hill by twenty points 87-67 on February 5, 2022. It really wasn’t that close.

Carolina didn’t really have quality wins in the 2022 regular season heading into Cameron for coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Tar Heels weren’t a lock for the 2022 NCAA Tournament before this game. This was Coach K’s final home game. There were nearly 100 of his ex-Dukies in attendance and the game had maximum ESPN exposure and fanfare.

What made this game different than all the other Duke vs. Carolina games broadcast nationally on ESPN was that after the Duke victory, ESPN was keeping the cameras rolling for the Mike Krzyzewski farewell ceremony by Duke University.

Carolina was trailing most of the game but surged past Duke on the scoreboard in the last 10 minutes of this contest, crashing the after party.

After watching Duke fans crying for half-an-hour in the stands and tears streaming from family and ex-Duke players faces on the court, the Cameron collective convinced themselves it wasn’t about this moment (even though they set up a party like it was) against Carolina but rather the chase for a national  championship.

That’s what Coach K’s final season was about and this meant nothing in the actual scheme of things. It only guaranteed the Tar Heels would make the upcoming March Madness Tournament.

Whatever ultimately became of the 2022 Duke Blue Devils, it would be decided in the NCAA Tournament, where UNC wouldn’t/couldn’t dictate anything.

Unlike North Carolina, Duke’s season was all about the national championship.

April 2, 2022. UNC 81 Duke 77

Caleb Love hits the 3-point dagger in the 2022 Final Four matchup of Duke vs. UNC.

There had never been a Duke vs. UNC NCAA Tournament matchup between the two bitter rivals before April 2, 2022.

These two teams have combined to win 11 national championships and make 38 Final Four appearances. 

For those fans that don’t remember this game from when it happened let me set the stage.

Sometimes in wrestling they have matches where the loser has to retire and that’s what the stipulation of 2022 Final Four matchup between North Carolina and Duke University featured.

Either UNC coach Hubert Davis or Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski would be retiring if they lost this game. Now if I got any of the specifics wrong, don’t correct me, that’s how I remember it going down.

In a matchup that lived up to the hype, the 8th seeded Tar Heels and 2nd seeded Blue Devils went punch-for-punch with a chance to win the national championship two nights later on the line. Along with ultimate bragging rights and one team needing a new head coach for next season.

This game featured 18 lead changes and went down to the wire. Duke forward Mark Williams missed two free throws that could’ve tied or thrusted Duke into the lead as the clock winded down.

Instead Carolina guard Caleb Love hit a 3-point dagger to send Coach K into retirement and send the North Carolina Tar Heels to the 2022 NCAA Championship Game against the Kansas Jayhawks.

I’m very upset that we can’t talk about 40-12 right now. LET’S GO HEELS.




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I provide highly opinionated sports articles. Most of these are featured articles. They will likely differ from the thoughts, stories and ideas, recycled by TV, radio, etc.

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