Things I Like About The NCAA Basketball Tournament: Classic Rivalries

More precisely, I admire classic rivalries that are mindlessly sustained. Following Duke’s victory in the 1992 championship game, I left the stadium in a bus full of (adult) Duke supporters. Within nanoseconds, the bus was filled with the dulcet Duke intonations of the traditional Duke mantra, “Go to hell, Carolina, go to hell.”

Only those unacquainted with this Tobacco Road rivalry will be surprised to learn that Duke had not defeated North Carolina that night – because Duke played Michigan in the Finals. The University of North Carolina, in fact, had not made it to the Final Four or the Elite Eight. It makes, as we say in the Ozarks, ain’t no nevermind.

The Duke-North Carolina rivalry, like those between Oklahoma-Texas, Missouri-Kansas, Army-Navy, and the rest, have long transcended their specific institutions and no longer require battles between or even proximity to the contestants; they have become, in fact, independent, metaphysical sacraments.

I’m told, by the way, that a line from the North Carolina State University Fight Song that references the University of North Carolina, “Come over the hill, Carolina,” is actually sung in vivo as “Go to hell, Carolina” by the State students – those scamps.


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