The No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels are rolling against the No. 15 Saint Peter’s Peacocks in the Elite Eight and barring a miraculous second-half comeback, UNC will win the East Region title and advance to the Final Four in New Orleans this Saturday.
Who will be their national semifinal opponent? Why it’s none other than their most hated blood enemy in the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils out of the West Region, setting up the most high-stakes game in the history of college basketball’s premier rivalry.
These two teams have met 257 times since 1920 and yet in the history of the storied Duke-UNC rivalry, these two programs have never faced each other in the NCAA Tournament. The only time that the two teams have faced each other after the ACC Tournament was the 1971 NIT semifinals, where the Tar Heels edged the Blue Devils 73-69.
There was one particular close call in 1991 when both teams made the Final Four on opposite sides of the bracket. UNC was defeated by Kansas in the semifinal while Duke toppled UNLV and went on to win the national title. But aside from that, the two teams have never crossed path in the NCAA Tournament, let alone this deep. In fact, when you look at the history of these two programs over the last 30 years, there’s several periods where if one makes the Final Four one year, the other will go the following year.