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The ultimate battle of the blues of 2022

TUES. | 04-26-22 | SPORTS

     On Saturday, Apr. 3, the battle of the blues took place in the Final Four game in New Orleans. This was the third matchup between the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels (UNC), as they entered the game each having beat each other once this season. Although the teams have faced one another multiple times in season games and even in the ACC 

tournament, they have never met in the NCAA tournament. This was Duke’s head coach Mike


Graphic by Emmy Ingalls

Krzyzewski's last game in his 42-year career.

     From the perspective of a Duke fan (Emmy), this game was a tough pill to swallow for me. In the first matchup of the season, Duke performed outstandingly and took care of UNC with a 20-point win. When the Tar Heels came to Durham, they were hungry and ended up beating Duke 94-81. Duke simply did not perform against UNC in the second season game or in the Final Four as well as they did in the first game. Going into the Final Four game, I had a very strong sense of hope for the Blue Devils as winning this game would advance Coach K one step further to his storybook ending of winning his sixth national championship. I also had faith that the Duke players would have an even stronger eagerness to win before, not just to advance them to the championship but for their coach.

     The Blue Devils are a very talented team, but they are also very young, as most players were freshmen. In my opinion, experience is a key factor in being a national champion. They did not portray their full potential on Saturday night, and this ended up losing them the game and a spot in the championship. As hard as this is for me to say, UNC gave it their all and really wanted to beat Duke in the Final Four. They all worked together and played their hardest, which paid off and secured them a spot against Kansas in the national championship. Two nights later, UNC and Kansas went head-to-head and both teams showcased outstanding performances. At halftime, the Kansas Jayhawks were trailing behind the Tar Heels by 15 points. They did not lose hope though, as they turned the game around in the second half. A combination between a turnaround for the Jayhawks and poorer performance from the Tar Heels resulted in a 3-point Kansas win and the team being named ¨Champion”.

     From the perspective of a North Carolina fan (Smith), this was a very fun and entertaining game to watch. UNC had beat Duke earlier in the season on Coach K’s last ever home game. UNC guard Caleb Love performed at a very high rate. Love scored 28 points in the final four victory against Duke. Although UNC lost to Kansas in the national championship, I would argue that the win against Duke is the biggest win in UNC history. Sending Coach K home in a loss to UNC in the final four means more than any non-championship win of all time. Our best defender, Leaky Black, guarded Duke star shooting guard AJ Griffin. In the first matchup, Griffin put up 28 points. When UNC played them again in the final four, Griffin had seven points when being guarded by Black. First year Coach Hubert Davis led UNC to the national championship in his first year as a head coach. Coach Davis has done an amazing job in his first year; he taught the players to leave it all out on the floor and I could not have asked for a better start to Davis’s coaching career. Although we took a tough loss to Kansas in the national championship, the future for the UNC basketball program looks bright. With the potential of having four of the five starters returning, UNC should be back again next year with the chance of redemption. 

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