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The clash of the blue bloods

It’s the biggest rivalry in the Carolinas and CSD Spartans show their colors as the next chapter of the clash of the blue bloods looms.
Conner Shelton
There’s nothing like Carolina and Duke when it comes to rivalries. And when the basketball teams face each other, team supporters show their colors.

UNC and Duke is arguably one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports. It is right up there with the Red Sox and Yankees baseball plus Auburn and Alabama football. Across the Carolinas, as the NCAA basketball season heats up, it’s either light blue or dark blue depending on which team you support.

At CSD, teachers and students often show how much their light blue UNC school spirit means to them. 

Civics teacher, Autumn Michael, regularly reps her Carolina gear including sweatshirts and her ever present Carolina coffee mug.

“I…get nostalgic about these games because it brings up memories of watching them with my family growing up in Salisbury, as well as in college,” said Ms. Michael.

Students like Marshall Ricks (‘25) also support the Tar Heels by wearing jerseys, sweatshirts or shirts.

And when it  comes to Duke fans, Blue Devil grad school alum and Sport in Society teacher, Mike Savicki, often wears Duke gear and hides a stuffed Blue Devil mascot in his classroom for luck when the two teams are set to compete.

“To me, the college basketball season really doesn’t get serious until Duke and Carolina meet each year,” said Mr. Savicki.

Over the years there have been some very memorable matches between the two schools. The most memorable recent matchup was the April 2022 Final Four game. Caleb Love from North Carolina and Paolo Banchero from Duke provided the highlights.

Fast forward to this season and Banchero is succeeding with the Orlando Magic in the NBA while Caleb Love has transferred to the Arizona Wildcats. Along with these two departures many other players at both of these schools have moved on to the next chapter in their basketball careers. But the memories remain.

As the 2023-2024 season began, both programs weren’t as highly talked about as usual. 

Duke came in to start the year with a surprising number two ranking while UNC, who failed to make the NCAA tournament the year prior, came in at 22..

Duke is still very young, however their new five-star freshman point guard, Jared McCain, was the talk of the town to begin the year.

North Carolina received good news when star senior center, Armondo Bacot, and shooting guard, RJ Davis, announced they were both returning to the school for their final year with the hope of winning a national championship, something Carolina came very close to doing in 2022.

UNC added many transfers over the offseason which boosted the depth of their lineup. However the big news was regarding the signing of a young star freshman point guard, Elliot Cadeau

Leading up to the first matchup of the year, while both schools had been performing well, Carolina played better than Duke as their new number three ranking proved, 

However, Duke was still a very good and dangerous team. Duke won some important games against Baylor and Clemson which kept them 9th in the ranks, but not as high as Duke fans would want.

As they do every year, College Gameday traveled to the Dean Smith center in Chapel hill to prepare for the first rivalry game of the year for both squads. With College Gameday on campus, the atmosphere was electric. Students from UNC packed the stadium and never tried to contain their energy. This just excited fans more and more and the hype surrounding the game became stronger than ever.

But being excited is not just the only emotion Michael, Ricks and Savicki go through while watching their beloved Tar Heels and Devils play basketball. 

Autumn Michael said, “my husband and I are always nervous in anticipation of the game.”

Marshall Ricks (‘25) said, “I am never nervous before a game, but I will start sweating if we’re (UNC) down at half, or if the starters aren’t making their shots.”

And as for Duke, Mr. Savicki loves the energy.

“I have never seen anything else out there that comes close to the energy of Duke and Carolina,” Mr. Savicki said. “It tickles me being in the Carolinas and getting to experience it every year.”

When the evening game finally tipped, Carolina took advantage of the home crowd and secured firm control of the game from the jump. 

Harrison Ingram, the transfer from Stanford, had a career game for the Tarheels by  posting 21 points and 13 rebounds in 38 minutes played. 

Armando Bacot also showed why the “ACC runs through him” by posting 25 points.

With the chemistry of these two on the floor, Carolina kept applying pressure in the second half and ended up sending Duke back to Durham with a 93-84 loss.

The game was definitely that of a Duke and Carolina rivalry. It was very physical, loud and exciting. And it is safe to say that the fans of both teams seem to make the most difference in rivalry games like this one.

Back at CSD, many teachers and Chapel Hill alums carried the buzz of the win into the following school week. Teachers wore their Carolina gear, proud to be a part of a great program like UNC.

When Carolina and Duke tip off for the second time this year, with both teams now ranked in the top 10, the game is sure to be electric.

The relatively young coaching pups, UNC coach Hubert Davis and Duke’s John Scheyer, will meet again looking to coach their team to victory and add to their growing legacy. While it’s not Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski facing off, the game still is just as popular as it was before these Hall of Fame coaches retired.

While the final matchup between the two programs won’t be as highly impactful to ACC standings as years past, both teams will fight really hard for better seeding position in the NCAA tournament. And college basketball fans can expect a dog fight between the two biggest rivalries in college basketball.

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About the Contributor
Conner Shelton
Conner Shelton, Sports Editor. Podcast Editor

Conner Shelton is a junior at the Community School of Davidson and is returning to journalism for a second year because he wants to  further his skills by interviewing more people and exploring different types of journalistic writing. He looks forward to meeting new people and gaining knowledge on how to become the best journalist possible. 

Conner loves to play baseball and is a member of the school’s baseball team. In his free time he loves to hangout with friends, workout and play with his dog, Charley. He has one sister who is in the 7th grade and is on the middle school volleyball team. His favorite subject is chemistry. Why? Conner enjoys the hard work and dedication that the subject takes to master.

"Hard work and dedication set the foundation for achievement." -  Wander Franco

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