Duke basketball rivalry with North Carolina will never be the same

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski and UNC head coach Hubert Davis (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski and UNC head coach Hubert Davis (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports) /

The rivalry between the Duke basketball program and North Carolina is forever changed. 

It is great that the average college basketball fan enjoyed Saturday night’s Final Four matchup between the Duke basketball team and North Carolina Tar Heels because the 40 minutes were agonizing for both fanbases.

However, the game became significantly less agonizing for Tar Heel fans after its 81-77 victory to advance to the National Championship game.

The victory was more than just another berth in the title game for the Heels. It signified the end of an era and winning the biggest chapter of the storied rivalry.

It was the biggest game the two teams have ever played, and it held the most weight for the Blue Devils.

North Carolina thought it would have bragging rights over Duke after defeating the Blue Devils in the final game of Mike Krzyzewski‘s career inside Cameron Indoor Stadium, but that would only be the beginning.

The Tar Heels also ended Coach K’s career. For good.

It is the ultimate trump card in any argument between the programs and something college basketball fans will remember forever.

The magnitude of the loss might have been slightly lessened after North Carolina blew the biggest halftime lead in the history of the National Championship Game (15 points) in its 72-69 loss to Kansas on Monday night. But the dust will settle in the coming weeks, and the history will last forever.

Duke basketball only has one option to get even with North Carolina

There is only one way for the Blue Devils to take away the trump card of the Tar Heels, and that is winning a National Championship against North Carolina.

Duke does not have any control over that situation. And it seems farfetched that the matchup will happen soon — if ever — considering Saturday night was the first time the programs have ever met in the NCAA Tournament.

The Blue Devils and Tar Heels are expected to have Top-10 caliber teams next season after both teams experienced disappointing endings to this campaign.