CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM The seniors on the Duke women’s basketball team get one more shot at this tonight — at least during a regular season.
The game they may have been dreaming about is here, since they’re undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the nation heading into their battle with No. 1 and defending NCAA champion Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic.
Connecticut has won six straight in the series and leads it 9-3. Duke’s best showing against UConn under seventh-year coach Joanne P. McCallie was a 61-45 loss here two seasons ago.
It’s the first time a No. 1 has visited a No. 2 since Connecticut’s 88-58 romp over UNC in 2009.
And once again it isn’t really close, as the Huskies are never challenged in the second half in rolling to an 83-61 win.
Tonight at Bank of America Stadium, the No. 20 Blue Devils (10-2) will take on No. 1 Florida State (12-0) for the ACC championship and a guaranteed spot in the Orange Bowl.
If FSU wins, of course, it will play either Ohio State or Auburn for the National Championship.
The Blue Devils have their best team since at least 1941 and David Cutcliffe has built a quality program, but they’re 0-for-Florida State lifetime and come into the contest as 30-point underdogs.
Only Boston College, which lost 48-34 at home on Sept. 28, has finished within 27 points of the Seminoles. And FSU will have starting quarterback Jameis Winston, who was cleared of possible rape l charges earlier in the week.
Game-time temperature will be in the upper 40s with a chance of rain.
Duke plays an awesome first quarter but it all goes downhill from there, as the Seminoles roll 45-7.
I never heard anybody predict Duke was going to finish this regular season 10-2 and as ACC Coastal Division football champions.
Now, I knew the Blue Devils were going to be decent this year. Picked them fifth in the division with a 7-5 record after going 6-7 last season that ended in a close, painful loss in the Belk Bowl.
But an eight-game winning streak and the best season in school history since 1941?
But that’s the case as the No. 20 Blue Devils take on consensus No. 1 Florida State (12-0) for the ACC championship tonight at 8 (ABC. Yes, National) in Charlotte.
Mind-boggling, isn’t it?
But the last time the Blue Devils played a game this important was that Rose Bowl in Durham following the 1941 season.
With a win over traditional multiple arch-rival UNC today No. 24 Duke (9-2, 5-2 ACC) will have its first 10-win season in school history, earning a spot in the ACC Championship game against No. 2 Florida State on Dec. 7 in Charlotte with a shot at the automatic berth in the Orange Bowl.
All of which would make the annual battle for the Victory Bell a big game for the Tar Heels anyway. UNC (6-5, 4-3) earned a bowl berth with its 80-20 rout of Old Dominion last week, and although the tiebreakers allow the Tar Heels no chance to play in Charlotte next weekend they would be able to claim some share of the Coastal Division title for the second straight year with a victory.
The Tar Heels, who had won eight straight in the series until Duke broke the spell with a 33-30 result last year in Durham, are listed as three-point favorites. It’s of course Senior Day for UNC, and star junior tight end Eric Ebron — who has announced he’ll enter the NFL draft — will also be honored.
Regardless of today’s outcome UNC is a heavy favorite to play in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte on Dec. 28; the bowl’s executive director Will Webb said his group is scouting no other ACC games today.
Duke gets the historic victory, winning 27-25 on a late drive, field goal and interception.
Time was when the annual season-ending battle between Duke and UNC was the biggest football game of the year in the Triangle.
And this time, the “Battle of the Blues” for the coveted Victory Bell is back, although it has a little different twist.
This time it’s the Tar Heels’ turn to play spoiler.
No. 24 Duke (9-2, 5-2 ACC) is having its best season since the ACC was formed, and the Blue Devils will play No. 2 Florida State for the conference championship Dec. 7 in Charlotte if they win today.
Duke has won seven straight games, two more than the five-game streak of UNC (6-5, 4-3) since the Tar Heels’ snakebitten and disastrous-looking 1-5 start.
Game time is noon (ESPN2) at Kenan Stadium, which may end up being a hard sellout for the first time for a Duke game in a very long time.
There is one other game in the Triangle today, as N.C. State (3-8, 0-7) hosts Maryland (6-5, 2-5) at 12:30 (WRAL) at Carter-Finley Stadium. It’s the Terps’ final ACC conference football game before their move to the Big Ten next year.
N.C. State has been able to coast through its first four women’s basketball games of the season, beating outgunned opposition by an average of 32 points.
The Wolfpack won’t likely win like that today.
This time first-year coach Wes Moore plays for the first time against a major opponent when Tulane (4-0) visits.
Wake Forest alum Lisa Stockton’s team, like the Wolfpack, was in the WNIT last season. But Tulane won 25 games.
This is the schools’ first meeting in women’s basketball. If State wins today, it could be considered one of the school’s best athletic victories since the baseball sub-regional last spring.
This time State establishes control in the first few minutes and holds a working margin throughout, cruising to a 59-46 victory.
For East Carolina (8-2) it has all been a pretty good dream. The Pirates already have a 55-31 rout at UNC under their belts, and look for the UNC-N.C. State sweep for the first time in school history.
But for N.C. State (3-7) it’s about ending a bad season on a good note. In Dave Doeren’s first season at the helm the Wolfpack is 0-7 in the ACC, on a six-game losing streak, and has to win today to avoid losing to all four FBS opponents in the state in the same season for the first time ever.
And it turns out to be a good day for the Pirates and a tough one for the Wolfpack, as ECU rolls 42-28.
Everybody has a game with more meaning to it than usual.
The biggest of all is for Duke, which will win the ACC’s Coastal Division if it can finish 10-2 by beating rivals Wake Forest on the road and UNC in Chapel Hill next week.
But UNC is playing for bowl qualification today. N.C. Central is playing its biggest rival of all — North Carolina A&T — and with a win would finish .500.
And N.C. State, where the season is already ruined, can leave the field feeling pretty good if the Wolfpack can upset non-conference rival East Carolina at Carter-Finley Stadium.
To sum it up UNC and N.C. State are at home while the two Durham schools are making short trips to the Triad. Since all four kickoffs are within an hour of each other, should we pity those who are traveling I-40 between Durham and Greensboro this afternoon and not heading to a football game?
UNC (5-5) will entertain Old Dominion (8-3) at noon at Kenan Stadium (FOX Sports Carolinas). And State (3-7) will entertain ECU (8-2) at 12:30 (WRAL).
Duke (8-2, 4-2 ACC) will visit Wake (4-6, 2-5) at noon at BB&T Field (ESPN2), while NCCU (5-6, 3-4 MEAC) will visit A&T at 1.
REYNOLDS COLISEUM/RALEIGH N.C. State continues its early-season run of home games against Division I opponents from outside the “power conferences” as first-year mentor Wes Moore starts his tenure at the helm.
Tonight’s foe is Morgan State of the MEAC, which lost its opener at home to Lincoln (Pa.) of the CIAA.
The Wolfpack is 3-0, with easy wins over St. Bonaventure, Towson and Presbyterian under its belt.
This one is as easy as expected, as the Wolfpack rolls 94-52.