The Duke-UNC March Madness game of destiny
Saturday's Duke-UNC game — their first-ever meeting in the NCAA tournament — is also their 100th matchup of the Mike Krzyzewski era.
By the numbers: Since Coach K arrived in Durham, his teams have gone 50-49 against North Carolina. Back surgery sidelined him for both losses in 1994, so his record is 50-47.
Why it matters: It would be hard to script a better matchup. The rivalry. The stakes. The storylines. The all-time winningest coach. Somehow, this is real life, not a movie.
- Will the Blue Devils beat their rival in Coach K's penultimate game, giving them a chance to tie UNC with six national championships?
- Or will the Tar Heels ruin the Duke's date with destiny, pulling off the upset in one of the most-anticipated college hoops games ever?
The big picture: It took some time for Krzyzewski to get his feet wet in this heated rivalry, losing the series in his first two decades before beginning to dominate in the 2000s.
- 1980-99: UNC 28, Duke 18
- 2000-22: Duke 32, UNC 21
- Rewind: The schools first played in 1920, and UNC leads the all-time series 142-115.
What they're saying: "Here's what folks mean when they say it's more than just a game," Axios' Michael Graff writes in Axios Charlotte:
"It's my old and dying father, a few years ago, his brain stripped by strokes, seeing Coach K's image flash across the television and remembering to say, 'I can't stand that man, but I respect him. I guess.'"
Meanwhile ... This blockbuster overshadows Kansas-Villanova, but the Jayhawks and Wildcats don't mind. "That's great, for me personally," said Kansas coach Bill Self.