Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tidbits: UNC vs. Duke Edition

Tonight is the first of two nights that ESPN has been waiting for all year long: it's the first run of the annual North Carolina vs. Duke rivalry (a.k.a. the most hyped up sporting event this side of the Super Bowl).

In honor of tonight's big game, Drive and Dish is rolling out another installment of our ever-popular "Tidbits" feature. For those readers who are sick of the UNC vs. Duke hype, rest assured: not all of our "Tidbits" items pertain to the Duke vs. North Carolina game. However, we're not getting paid to write about the Mercer vs. the Citadel rivalry, so forgive us if we're a little UNC vs. Duke heavy today.

On second thought, we're not really getting paid to write about the North Carolina vs. Duke rivalry either. Our high six-figure blogging salaries were casualties of the recent economic downturn, so the Drive and Dish writers are now blogging pro bono (although thanks to the largess of the U.S. Senate, the "sports blog bailout" allocation in the stimulus bill will allow the twelve member Drive and Dish Editorial Board, the Drive and Dish Board of Directors, and the 21 year old Long Island Iced Tea- drinking, table-dancing, Pussycat Doll lookalike Drive and Dish interns to retain their usual high levels of compensation).

So before we start having second thoughts about the whole "pro bono blogging" thing (and before we start to resent the Editorial Board's high level of compensation and begin to demand salary caps for Editorial Board members ... damn those "suits!" ... workers of the world unite! ... viva la revolucion!), we present the "UNC vs. Duke 2009" edition of "Tidbits":

1. Ken Tysiac (a noted North Carolina hater, at least according to many Tar Heels fans) of the Charlotte Observer says that North Carolina is starting separate itself from Duke as a basketball power because of Roy Williams' superior recruiting:

“Not that Duke has recruited badly, but North Carolina has sort of exceeded them in recruiting,” said (Bob) Gibbons, the All-Star Sports recruiting analyst. “And the end result is the differential in the game performance.”

Just a few short years ago, Duke was widely considered the preeminent program in college basketball, and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was said to be able to get just about any recruit that he wanted. But Duke has gone just 2-5 against North Carolina recently, despite having won 15 of the the previous 17 games against the Tar Heels. And Raycom Sports analyst (and former Duke center) Mike Gminski thinks that North Carolina's recent dominance in the heated series is likely to further the Heels' recruiting advantage over Duke:

“Kids can't identify with history. They're too young.”

2., powered by Fox Sports and MSN previews tonight's North Carolina vs. Duke game. (Hey, wait a minute ... aren't Fox News and MSNBC supposed to be bitter, archenemies? Don't Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow make their livings by "speaking truth to power" to the nefarious "right wing fascist Nazis" at "Fixed News"? And don't Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity lampoon the "crazy liberals" at MSNBC and in the "mainstream media?" Isn't the Fox vs. MSNBC rivalry more heated and intense than the Duke vs. North Carolina rivalry? Don't tell me that the parent companies of the two cable news rivals are actually partners in some kind of cynical, capitalist, synergistic media alliance! Could the respective politics of the cable news enemies be little more than the result of programming decisions that had their roots in corporate media attempts to establish strong "brands" for their cable news entities? Oh, the horror!)

3. The ACC & SEC Blog also previews tonight's game and predicts a 1-5 point North Carolina win.

4. North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough looks to go 4-0 vs. Duke at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium.

5. Drive and Dish gets frequent requests from readers to step up our coverage of mid-major college basketball. Many of those requests come from fans of a Horizion League programs (one or two programs in particular).

Ask and ye shall receive: coverage of Tuesday night's Wright State (OH) win over Loyola (Chicago) courtesy of the fine blog, Chicago College Basketball.

6. Michigan turned some heads earlier in the season when they upset then-No. 4 UCLA and then-No. 4 Duke in the space of two weeks. Hopes were high that Wolverines head coach John Beilein was in the process of reestablishing Michigan as an elite college basketball program. But the Wolverines trailed off somewhat after their hot start. However, all is not lost in Ann Arbor: after last week's nice win over Penn State and respective showing at No. 1 UConn, Michigan is still very much in the mix for a post-season berth. And considering the depths to which the once proud UM program had fallen to, John Beilein has done a nice job turning what was a moribund program around. Hoopraker looks at Michigan's climb back up to college basketball prominence.

1 comment:

Izzy said...

Ty Lawson took over that game last night. There was no one on the Blue Devils' team who could have guarded him. Lawson is a frustrating player because there are games when he shows up at, but others that he doesn't. He took the game into his own hands, and made the game look so easy.

Duke got outplayed. It was not due to their mistakes that they lost the game. The lost the game because they are just not as good as Carolina. Carolina is more physical, and they have a lot more depth. Outside of Zoubek, Duke has little inside presence. Carolina is a more physical team, and they exploited their physicality down low last night.

Watching the game, you just saw the air get sucked out of the building when Hansborough made the 3pter with the shot clock expiring. Everything was going Carolina's way. Not a devastating loss for Duke. All that matters is March. It should be a good one.