Thursday, March 24, 2011

What if...Duke meets UNC in NCAA semis?

ANAHEIM, Calif. - A fan in my live chat this afternoon asked the question we already have asked ourselves in the sports departments at the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer.

What if Duke and North Carolina both get to the Final Four and meet in the NCAA semifinals?

My first response is this.

Hide the women and children! The end is near! Life as we know it will never be the same!

Of course, this is a gross overreaction, considering the more serious things going on in the world today.

But I do think the Duke-UNC rivalry would be irreversibly affected by a meeting in the NCAA semifinals. Bragging rights mean a great deal in this rivalry. And particularly if the semifinal winner goes on to capture the NCAA championship, its fans would have the ultimate bragging right trump card.

The loser would win a lot more games in the rivalry. But the winner would have come out on top when it mattered most.

That having been said, we are all getting way too far ahead of ourselves in considering this scenario. Duke is playing far from home in a West Regional that includes two teams from out West plus a Connecticut team that’s extremely hot and has a coach who’s thwarted the Blue Devils twice in huge NCAA tournament games.

North Carolina is playing in a regional with the tournament favorite, Ohio State, and must find a way for the Tar Heels’ defensively suspect guards to stop Marquette’s penetration in Friday’s regional semifinal.

At the newspaper we have to plan for what would be an incredibly high-stakes week for readers and subscribers. We’re already coming up with ideas and concepts that might make sense if Duke and UNC met in the biggest game in the history of college basketball’s biggest rivalry.

Fans, meanwhile, naturally are dreaming of what would happen if the teams met in Houston. Part of being a fan is dreaming about fantastic events that might never occur.

But with each team needing two wins, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to make this a reality.

Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

I tend to disagree with you about the ultimate trump card. I think it would be great for bragging rights, but to me anyway, if my team wins that game and next year the other team comes out and kills mine both times, I would look very stupid if I said...."yeah, well even though you whooped us bad this year, we still beat yall in the semifinals last year". Last year never has any bearing on the current season. So I think ultimate bragging rights can only go on until the next season starts.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness this didn't pan out, for everyone's sanity (though Duke probably would have won).

Anonymous said...

WRONG! Carolina would have smoked dook.