Duke has beat North Carolina 111 times since the biggest rivalry in college basketball began in 1920. Here are our rankings of the 10 most memorable victories of that group.
10. Duke 93, North Carolina 83: March 10, 2017 (Barclays Center)
Duke has come from behind to stun superior North Carolina teams several times this decade, and the most dramatic run to an ACC championship in program history included one such victory against a top-seeded Tar Heel squad that won the national championship three weeks later. Facing a 13-point deficit early in the second half in Brooklyn, the Blue Devils quickly tied it up with a 15-2 run and took the lead moments later on a 3-pointer by Frank Jackson. Harry Giles enjoyed his best sequence in a Duke uniform with a key block, dunk and steal to help the Blue Devils pull away, and Duke won the ACC championship the next day with another comeback against Notre Dame.
9. Duke 79, North Carolina 73: Feb. 9, 2011 (Cameron Indoor Stadium)
To set up the first of many dramatic comebacks in recent years, the Tar Heels jumped in front of the favored hosts and took a 43-29 lead into the locker room. But the Blue Devils started the second half on an 8-0 run thanks to 3-pointers from Nolan Smith and Seth Curry and Duke took its first lead of the night when Ryan Kelly knocked down a triple with less than 10 minutes to play. Smith scored a career-high 34 points in the game, and the 14-point halftime deficit remains tied for the third-largest the Blue Devils have ever overcome in a win.
8. Duke 94, North Carolina 64: Feb. 29, 1952 (Cameron Indoor Stadium)
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Despite taking place 67 years ago, this game still holds a firm place in Duke’s all-time record books. Dick Groat, Duke’s first national player of the year, poured in 48 points on Senior Night, still the most anybody has ever scored in a game at Cameron and the second-highest single-game total in program history, behind only Danny Ferry’s 58-point explosion at Miami in 1988. Forward Bernie Janicki also grabbed 31 rebounds that day, a single-game program record that no Blue Devil has threatened in the years since.
7. Duke 83, North Carolina 81 (OT): Feb. 5, 2004 (Dean E. Smith Center)
The Tar Heels were ready to knock off top-ranked Duke on their home court in Roy Williams’ first game as a head coach in the rivalry, taking a seven-point lead with less than six minutes to play in regulation. The Blue Devils responded with a 10-0 run, but North Carolina’s Jawad Williams sent it to overtime with a 3-pointer. In the extra session, the Tar Heels again evened the score with a late 3-pointer by Rashad McCants, but senior point guard Chris Duhon took the ball coast to coast for a reverse layup with six seconds left to put Duke on top. North Carolina airballed its final shot at the buzzer, allowing the Blue Devils to hold on.
6. Duke 87, North Carolina 86 (3OT): March 2, 1968 (Cameron Indoor Stadium)
In the 23 games leading up Duke’s regular-season finale in the 1967-68 campaign, little-used forward Fred Lind scored just 12 points. But when star forward Mike Lewis fouled out with 3:54 left in regulation, Lind stepped in and played the rest of the game as an unlikely hero. He knocked down two free throws to tie it up at the end of regulation, made a midrange jumper to force the second overtime and sank a critical hook shot in the third overtime to lift the Blue Devils to an improbable victory. He finished with 16 points and nine rebounds and carried that confidence into a strong senior season the next year.
5. Duke 74, North Carolina 73: Feb. 17, 2016 (Dean E. Smith Center)
On paper, Duke shouldn’t have won this game, not with its least talented team of the last decade going up against a loaded Tar Heel squad that would play in the national championship and certainly not after guard Matt Jones went down midway through the first half with an ankle injury. But the Blue Devils didn’t make a substitution in the final 10:51 and battled back from an eight-point deficit, clinching the win when freshman Derryck Thornton blocked Joel Berry II’s last attempt in the lane. North Carolina big man Brice Johnson had 29 points and 19 rebounds to dominate the paint, but the Tar Heels inexplicably stopped feeding their star down the stretch even as Duke center Marshall Plumlee played with four fouls.
4. Duke 92, North Carolina 90 (OT): Feb. 18, 2015 (Cameron Indoor Stadium)
Just days after North Carolina coaching legend Dean Smith died, the two teams gathered in a huddle at midcourt before the matchup for a moment of silence and then played a game that would have made him proud. In the most electric comeback at Cameron in recent memory, Duke trailed 77-67 with less than four minutes left before Justise Winslow scored five straight Blue Devil points and Tyus Jones scored the next nine, cementing his legacy as a clutch playmaker, to finish regulation on a 14-4 run. All-American Jahlil Okafor converted a couple of clutch buckets in overtime as Duke held on for a victory.
3. Duke 77, North Carolina 75: Feb. 28, 1998 (Cameron Indoor Stadium)
In a top-three matchup on Senior Day for Steve Wojciechowski, North Carolina looked like it would play spoiler, building a 17-point lead with 12 minutes left three weeks after it had trounced the Blue Devils by 24 in Chapel Hill. But Duke battled back, as Chris Carrawell tied the game with about two minutes left and Roshown McLeod made the game-winner to give head coach Mike Krzyzewski his 500th career win. Wojciechowski didn’t make a shot from the field, but dished out 11 assists in what Krzyzewski called “the best one-point performance ever here.”
2. Duke 85, North Carolina 84: Feb. 8, 2012 (Dean E. Smith Center)
Duke trailed 82-72 with less than two and a half minutes left and didn’t have the lead for the entire second half until the clock showed all zeroes, when freshman Austin Rivers’ memorable buzzer-beating 3-pointer swished through the net to send the crowd in Chapel Hill into stunned silence. Tyler Thornton started the comeback with a 3-pointer, Seth Curry added a triple on the next possession and Ryan Kelly sank a jumper from the corner to cut it to two in the final minute. After a free throw for the Tar Heels, North Carolina forward Tyler Zeller tipped a blocked shot into his own basket with the help of a questionable nudge in the back by Duke forward Mason Plumlee. Zeller then missed a free throw on the other end, opening the door for Rivers’ heroics.
1. Duke 66, North Carolina 65 (OT): Feb. 28, 1981 (Cameron Indoor Stadium)
The Blue Devils’ only home buzzer-beater in a victory against the Tar Heels has to be at the top of this list, and it came in Coach K’s first season, giving him his first of 46 wins so far in the rivalry. Gene Banks tossed roses to the crowd on his Senior Day before the game, and with Duke inbounding the ball from the sideline near midcourt trailing by two with one second left, Banks received a pass from classmate Kenny Dennard a couple feet beyond the free-throw line and nailed a turnaround jumper to force overtime. He also made the game-winning putback with 17 seconds left in overtime, leading the way to the win with 25 points and playing all 45 minutes.
This is part of our extensive preview coverage for this year's first meeting between Duke and North Carolina. Check out more of our content here, including top games of this season for the Blue Devils, breakdowns of the matchups at every position Wednesday night and our writers' predictions for the game.