When the contract for Tennessee to play last season and this one UNC was originally signed, the matchup was supposed to be between Hall of Fame coaches Pat Summitt and Sylvia Hatchell, who many long years ago was one of Summitt’s assistants with the Lady Vols.
But a year and a half ago Summitt became the Vols’ head coach emeritus, as she resigned because of her Alzheimer’s disease. And then last month, Hatchell was diagnosed with leukemia.
So acting coach and long-time Hatchell assistant directs the No. 12 Tar Heels (1-0), while second-year mentor Holly Warlick heads up the No. 4 Lady Vols (1-0) in front of the national audience on ESPN2. UNC’s No. 1 recruiting class in the country will get its first big collegiate test tonight.
On this night the more experienced Lady Vols are just a little better, holding off the Tar Heels down the stretch to win 81-65.
But with the expansion of the ACC to now 14 football teams, meetings between the Durham and Raleigh schools have become few and far between.
The series will resume after a three-year hiatus on a cool, cloudy day in front of a mostly full house, and the two teams have been headed in opposite directions.
Today, Duke breaks open a close game with three TDs in the final 3:31, two of them on interception returns from freshman DeVon Edwards in a 38-20 win.
That silliness ends today.
Duke (6-2, 2-2 ACC) which still has a shot at its best season since the ACC was formed, will host N.C. State (3-5, 0-5) today at 4 at Wallace Wade Stadium in a game to be shown on ESPNU.
The matchup is one of two ACC games to be played in the Triangle today, as UNC (2-3, 3-5) will host reeling Virginia (2-7, 0-5) at 12:30 at Kenan Stadium in a game to be shown on WRAL.
N.C. Central (4-5, 2-3 MEAC) will travel to MEAC rival Hampton (3-6, 3-2) at 1 p.m.
The wait is over for fans of ACC women’s basketball.
Yes, the action starts today, with two Triangle teams hitting the court.
No. 12 UNC (29-7 last season), which is picked fourth in the conference, will host Air Force (4-26) at 4:30 p.m. at Carmichael Arena.
Then at 6 N.C. State (17-17), picked ninth, will take on St. Bonaventure (10-19) at Reynolds Coliseum.
Conference favorite and defending champion No. 2 Duke (33-3) will open Sunday at 6 p.m. at No. 9 California (32-4) in a game to be shown on ESPNU.
The Blue Devils return five seniors, all members of the No. 1 recruiting class of four years ago including forward Haley Peters and guards Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston. Also back are junior center Elizabeth Williams, the ACC rookie of the year two seasons ago, and sophomore guard Alexis Jones who was MVP of the ACC Tournament. Joanne P. McCallie’s club also has the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class led by forwards Oderah Chidom and Kendall McCravey-Cooper.
N.C. State (3-4, 0-4 ACC) is looking for its first ACC win under first-year coach Dave Doeren, and in fact its first win of any kind since September. UNC (2-5, 1-3) has just snapped a four-game losing streak with a 34-10 win over Boston College seven days ago.
It’s the first time both teams have been below .500 for this one since 2007.
The weather is sunny and mild and perfect, and the Wolfpack is showing off its new 50-yard-line logo with a red map of the state and a wolf’s head covering the Eastern Piedmont.
It’s another hard-fought one but this time the Tar Heels make the big plays on defense, holding on for the 27-19 victory.
And that’s rarely the case when North Carolina’s most anticipated college football game of the year kicks off.
But when UNC (2-5, 1-3 ACC) visits N.C. State (3-4, 0-4) today at 12:30 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium in a game to be shown on WRAL, it’s even more of a must-win game than usual on both sides.
The last time both teams came into this one with losing records was in 2007, when Butch Davis and Tom O’Brien was each in his first season at the helm. The loser of this one is going to have to struggle mightily to qualify for a bowl game, while the winner’s position is far, far, far from assured.
The State-Carolina game is not the only Division I game in the Triangle today.
N.C. Central (4-4, 2-2 MEAC) will take on MEAC leader Bethune-Cookman (7-1, 4-0) — ranked No. 12 in the FCS and consensus No. 1 team in Black College polls — at noon at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium in a game to be shown on ESPNews. An upset could help interim head coach Dwayne Foster’s bid to become the Eagles’ head coach next season.
Meanwhile Duke (6-2, 2-2 ACC), which will be in a bowl game and has a chance to lay a claim to be the best team in the state for the first time in a generation, is idle until next week’s home game with the Wolfpack.
It shouldn’t be hard since the Blue Devils are 7-6-4 (4-4-3 ACC) and Pitt 4-12-1 (0-11). But Duke had to fight very hard to beat a struggling N.C. State team 1-0 with a second-half goal Thursday night.
Today there will be an extra advantage because of the Senior Day sentimentality, with eight players playing their last home game for the Blue Devils. The game is shown on Fox Sports Carolinas.
Pitt will start freshman goalie Taylor Francis, who played last year at Panther Creek High.
Duke does take care of business this time, scoring half a dozen first-half goals en route to a 6-3 win.
That’s going to be the situation for UNC this afternoon, when the Tar Heels (1-5, 0-3 ACC) host Boston College (3-3, 1-2) at 3:30 p.m. at Kenan Stadium (Fox Sports Carolinas).
If UNC is the victim of an upset, the Tar Heels will have to win all five remaining games to get a sixth win and the bowl trip they missed out on last year because of the NCAA probation.
All six remaining games are winnable, but if the Tar Heels are going to save their season it HAS to start today.
UNC is the only Triangle Division I team at home this weekend. And the two other local ACC teams will be road underdogs.
N.C. Central (3-4, 1-2 MEAC), which is all but out of the MEAC race, will be favored to get to .500 when the Eagles visit Savannah State (1-7, 0-4) at 2 p.m. It’s a must-win game for NCCU interim head coach Dwayne Foster.
Oddly, all three local ACC teams are playing at the same time. Duke (5-2, 1-2), which needs one win to will look to pull off a shocker at No. 14 Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0) in an ESPNU game. Meanwhile N.C. State (3-3, 0-3) will look for its first quality win under Dave Doeren and possibly the national upset of the year in a visit to No. 2 Florida State (6-0, 4-0).
Duke (6-6-4, 3-4-3 ACC) is still on track for an NCAA bid barring some late-season disaster as the Blue Devils host N.C. State (6-11, 1-10) in their annual cancer awareness game. The Blue Devils will wear pink and the “D” in the center circle is also pink as they raise funds for the family of 6-year-old Morgan Blazek of Apex, who is a survivor of the eye cancer retinoblastoma.
The Wolfpack is in its first season under Tim Santoro.
The Blue Devils get one second-half goal against State’s 4-4-2 attack, prevailing 1-0 in the absolute must-win contest.
So even with the addition of a Final Four team to the mix, the Blue Devils still command plenty of respect in the conference.
ACC media day was on Wednesday and Duke was picked to finish first by both the conference’s Blue Ribbon Panel and the coaches, followed by Notre Dame, Maryland and UNC in the top four. N.C. State, under new head coach Wes Moore, was picked 10th.
The Blue Devils, who had the No. 2 recruiting class in the country led by forward Oderah Chidom, placed seniors Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston along with junior Elizabeth Williams on the preseason all-conference team. Blue Devil freshman Kendall McCravey-Cooper was named to the panel’s newcomer watch list.
UNC, deemed to have the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, will begin the season with Hall of Fame head coach Sylvia Hatchell sidelined as she battles her recently diagnosed leukemia. Her career-long top assistant Andrew Calder will coach the Tar Heels in her absence.
Tar Heel sophomore Xylina McDaniel made the all-conference team, while Diamond DeShields is on both newcomer watch lists.