A Conference Tournament Spotlight On: The ACC

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Conference tournaments are just around the corner, and we couldn’t be more excited. Teams are playing for their post-season lives, each contest has a heightened importance and the match-ups feature some of country’s fiercest rivalries.

With the ACC Tournament slated to begin on March 10 at the Greensboro Coliseum, it seems only fitting to take a look at the conference’s storied rivals.

The UNC-Duke Rivalry
Few teams have had as many classic battles as the Duke Blue Devils and their cross-state neighbors the North Carolina Tar Heels. With a combined nine national championships and 33 Final Four appearances between them, its no surprise that whenever the two meet it’s something special.

Regular season history: Since their first game in 1920, the two teams have played each other 230 times, with the Tar Heels holding a 130-100 lead in the series. Duke has won the last two meetings, including a 79-73 victory earlier this season and an 82-50 drubbing of North Carolina last year. The 2010 Regular Season championship, however, went down to the last game of the season, which North Carolina won in a convincing fashion this past weekend 81-67.

Postseason history: Despite their legendary regular season battles, there has only been one postseason meeting – in the 1971 NIT semifinals – which North Carolina won en route to capturing the tournament title.

Best players: The list of iconic players from the rivalry could go on forever. From UNC’s Michael Jordon and Tyler Hansbrough to Duke’s Shane Battier and Grant Hill, some of the game’s biggest names have played in the rivalry.

Best game: February 4, 2004 – No. 1 Duke defeated No. 17 North Carolina 83-81 in overtime. In a series with many classic games, this is one of the all-time greats. Rashad McCants hit a three at the buzzer to force overtime, and Chris Duhon’s layup in extra time gave the Blue Devils the win.

The North Carolina State – Wake Forest rivalry
It may not receive as much attention as the Duke-UNC, but this North Carolina rivalry is just as intense. The Wake Forest Deamon Decons and the NC State Wolf Pack each have a storied history of their own.

Regular season history: The two teams have one of the longest running series in the country, dating back to the first 1910 contest, won 33-6 by Wake Forest. Times have changed, however, and NC State owns the overall series with a 132-99 edge.

Post-season history:  The only meeting between the two teams not in the regular season occurred in the semifinals of the 2000 NIT, which Wake Forest won 62-59 in overtime.

Best players: Two of the best players in the NBA today are Wake Forest alums. Both 2006 Rookie of the Year Chris Paul and four time NBA champ and Spurs center Tim Duncan are former Demon Deacons. The Wolfpack have their own famous alumni including Spudd Webb and JJ Hickson.

Best game: The two teams lone post season matchup proved to be one of the best. The game went down to the wire, and the win catapulted Wake Forest to the NIT title.

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