In an area as sprawling, dynamic and heterogeneous as the Triangle, it can be difficult to locate a binding thread to our culture. Difficult, that is, but for basketball.
The region has undergone sweeping social and demographic changes over the past century, yet basketball remains a constant. Did you know that Duke has the area's oldest basketball program, which was formed in 1906, just 15 years after the game's invention? That squad stormed its way to a 2-3 record. We're not sure who their opponents were, but they weren't UNC or State. Those schools didn't begin play until 1910 and 1911, respectively.
And did you know that N.C. State teams, prior to being called the Wolfpack, were known as the Red Terrors for two decades until the dawn of the Cold War, which made their old nickname politically suspect? But before they were the Red Terrors, they were the Farmers. (Don't tell this to anyone in Chapel Hill.)
Basketball mirrors the Triangle's culture: There's no getting around the fact that for more than half of its history as an integral part of our winters, the game was confined—at its highest levels—to white men. Integration came late to the area's schools, at the end of the 1960s, and women didn't begin fully supported play until the passage of Title IX in 1972.
Today's basketball culture in the Triangle is very different, representing the more inclusive world we live in. Half a dozen programs in the area claim passionate followings, and four or five are legitimate contenders for the men's and women's national titles this year. College basketball makes fans of practically everyone who passes through the area, and our writers are no exception. —David Fellerath