The Best Rivalry in Sports?

I am often critical of Dick Vitale, but the passion he brings to the Duke/UNC rivalry truly is unprecedented. He's getting old and could spin off the Earth at any moment. Thus, I am going to do a running commentary, ala Bill Simmons, on Tuesday's Duke vs. UNC game in Chapel Hill so that I have documentation of him calling such a game. I'm not really a huge fan of these two teams or this rivalry in general, so I apologize in advance for my cynicism.

7:58 PM EST — I decide running commentaries are more fun if gambling is involved. I settle on Duke/UNC under 155 for one unit.

8:03 — As expected, Vitale is calling the game. Brad Nessler is the play-by-play guy. I search my sportsbook for some sort of prop bet on how many times Dickie V. will say, "Can you believe it, Mr. Nessler?!" Sadly, no such prop exists. I set my own over/under for this at three.

8:08 — Vitale calls Rayshaun Terry the most improved player in America next to Aaron Gray.

8:09 — Six of the 10 starters for this game are white. This has to be some sort of modern day ACC record. It also bodes well for the under.

8:11 — J.J. Redick flops ridiculously after knocking down a mid range jumper. He is already on my nerves and the game isn't four minutes old.

8:13 — J.J. has to have studied film of Reggie Miller at some point. His ability to get guys in the air with the pump fake in order to draw the foul is vintage Miller. I am now convinced he will be hated in the NBA, as well.

8:18 — 13-5 Duke, North Carolina looks awful thus far. There is no way they are the 24th best team in the country. If you put the same players in Clemson uniforms, they wouldn't even show up under "others receiving votes."

8:22 — The officials actually seem to be pro-North Carolina tonight. They must be under strict orders from ESPN and the ACC to keep this one respectable.

8:23 — Vitale throws in a shameless Notre Dame football plug. He never ceases to amaze me.

8:25 — This pride of the program shtick ESPN is running has gotten old. Seriously, what's the point in showing retro Nebraska highlights during an ACC contest?

8:26 — Raymond Felton and Sean May both in the house. If this one is to stay interesting, Carolina better go grab them a pair of jerseys.

8:29 — Ten minutes in the score is 21-13. 34 x 4 = 136. Sorry, back to the game.

8:32 — I'm not sure what to make of this Tyler Hansbrough kid. He's ultra productive for a freshman, but I can't help but think he is on the fast train to Mark Madsenville.

8:36 — The clip of the Jeff Caple 40-foot bomb never gets old. I still remember staying up late to watch that. Great moment.

8:38 — Vitale with absolutely the best line he has ever dropped, "If I got suspended every time I made a mistake, I'd never get to work." He's such an all-time classic. Maybe this running log was a good idea after all.

8:40 — Josh McRoberts gets McBlocked, one of the Carolina white boys knocks down an open look for three to cut it to one. Vitale goes nuts, but fortunately for everyone, he is drowned out by the crowd noise. Five years ago, his voice would have over powered the entire Dean Dome, but the years and hundreds of Duke games are finally taking their toll.

8:44 — Baylor is beating Missouri by 29 points. This means nothing unless you placed a bet on Baylor an hour before tip. Being a degenerate is fun.

8:52 — Vitale pathetically tries to convince the audience that the free throw disparity in Duke games is a product of Duke's style of play and not biased officiating. Nice try, Dickie, but nobody's buying what you are selling.

8:55 — Duke 40, UNC 35, 75 total points, looks like I'll be sweating the under the entire second half. Maybe gambling and running logs don't go so well together after all.

9:02 — Halftime highlights reveal that not much else is going on around the country. However, it's never too early to look ahead. Villanova looks like they really might be a Final Four team. In fact if they end up a No. 2 seed opposite Duke in the East, 'Nova would likely be the team to go through on my bracket. Also, Tennessee got a big win over Kentucky tonight. Is it just me, or do they not have three-seed loses to 14-seed written all over them? I'm not impressed with Bruce Pearl or his orange blazer. We'll see.

9:06 — I'm snapped out of a trance by the sound of Steven A Smith yelling. I check to make sure I'm not sitting on the volume button of my remote, but it's right next to me. In fact, the volume on my TV has not been adjusted at all. Weird...

9:09 — I snap out of another trance only to realize that it is 9:10 and I forgot to TiVo "The Shield."

9:10 — TiVo is in fact recording "The Shield," my Dad must've hit up the season pass feature. Great call, Dad. Truly excellent work.

9:12 — Talk about a suspect stat line, UNC shooting 33%, turnovers are even, and Duke is only leading by five.

9:13 — Airball by J.J., I've never seen him shoot so poorly from three. This is awesome.

9:15 — Doris Burke is not even a 50th as good looking as Erin Andrews is. Seriously, when is ESPN going to learn that all its target audience of males 18-40 wants in a sideline reporter is smoking hot good looks.

9:19 — Duke by 17, 55-38, I wonder what Vic Mackey is up to right now.

9:25 — I don't know how Bill Simmons does this with such ease. The game is not out of reach, yet I'm totally distracted. Right now, I'm at typing in, "Is J.J. Redick gay?"

9:27 — Jeeves delivers with a hilarious picture of a Maryland fan holding up an anti Redick picture.

9:30 — Carolina within nine, 54-45, plenty of time left. I'm back in it.

9:32 — J.J. misses again from three, how come no stats are popping up with his three-point numbers? They would be shown after every shot if he was 5-of-8. Shouldn't Vitale and Nessler at least mention it? At least Doris Burke had the stones to talk about how Redick doesn't shoot well in this building.

9:33 — By the way, for those scoring at home, he's 1-of-7 thus far from three. Thank you,

9:35 — Interesting ad for the "Open the Eyes to My Heart" Christian rock album. Never seen anything quite like this on ESPN before, at least not before midnight. If this doesn't say it all about UNC and Duke fans, then I don't really know what else could.

9:40 — Redick with a three, then a steal that turns into an uncontested lay up. Time for Dick and Brad to recommence the greatest player in the history of the world discussion.

9:41 — Carolina showing tons of heart right now. This is terrible news for my under.

9:42 — Vitale with his second cheap shot of the night in regards to Sam Cassell's past comments on Chapel Hill followed quickly by the fifth "Coach Nessler" reference of the broadcast. He's warming up, baby.

9:46 — Not sure what bothers me more, a coach's timeout followed 10 seconds later by a television timeout in college basketball or the cutting to commercials following kickoffs that goes on in the NFL. To close to call.

9:49 — Watching Duke lose is fun, but it'd be a lot more fun if I had Carolina and the points.

9:53 — Carolina 71, Duke 66, 4:30 left, please slow the game down.

9:54 — God damnit, J.J.

9:58 — ESPN has given Doris Burke about 1/10 the camera time that they normally give Erin Andrews. Somebody alert Martha Burk.

10:02 — Thanks, J.J., Duke 79, UNC 75, 154 total points and still two minutes left, Goodbye Mr. Under. Being a degenerate sucks.

10:06 — I'm sick of all these commentators talking about how UConn has more talent, but Duke has the better team and thus would win if the two played right now. I'm praying these two meet on a neutral court in March. UConn would only be a small favorite and they'd make for a great play. Unfortunately Duke, will likely lose in the Sweet 16, so this matchup will not happen.

10:08 — Awesome garbage time three pointer by J.J. Apparently common sense game management skills like running clock don't apply to him. Might be time to start calling him Peyton Redick. He's the king of meaningless points.

10:12 — Nothing like the last-minute free throw fests that seem to accompany the end of every Duke game. Can't this end already?

10:13 — Oh man, Carolina has a shot, turnover followed by Vitale's third Sam Cassell wine and cheese reference of the night. It's Duke and Carolina, college basketball, baby.

10:15 — The point spread on this game was Duke -5. This is going to end very painfully for one of the sides. I'm kind of glad I went with the small play on the under. Even though the bet is dead at least I'm not spending the last minutes of this one in agony.

10:17 — This ending is getting bizarre. I'd love nothing more than for it somehow to come down to Lee Melchionni. Now that'd make for some great television.

10:18 — Sheldon Williams to the line. He is going to make 1-of-2 and this game is going to land on four. Tough luck for those who took Duke giving the points.

10:19 — Duke 87, North Carolina 83. The game was actually a better contest than I expected. In fact, I actually enjoyed writing this running log. Looks like I'll have to do it again for the March 4 rematch.

Ryan Hojnacki also writes for his own publication,

Comments and Conversation

February 10, 2006

Tim DePorter:

the venting beings….just as all the duke haters are gettin sick of the duke lovers THIS duke lover is gettin sick of the haters. The point is this when you’re on top they hate. This guy thinking duke will lose in the sweet 16 is out of his mind(all this talk of betting if you think they will lose in thw sweet 16 ill take that action hahaha). Matter of fact you shouldnt of did a running log because through it you see how you really dont know what you are talking about. 10:08 garbage time 3 pointer????? first off there wasnt any garbage points in that game it came down to the last seconds??? without that three we only win by 1, pure genius. Rivals, especially one of this magnitude are always going to have close games. Last year the great North Carolina escaped barely without getting swept by a “not deep” duke team so should it surprise anyone it was close, because it shouldnt last 6 and now make that 7 games have been decided by 5 points or less. Cant wait to read the march 4th edition and you should wait to the end and revise all the ridiculous comments and facts and theories you have

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