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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Duke Has Played Thirty-Three Games, and I've Learned Nothing

Posted By on Tue, Mar 13, 2018 at 2:02 PM

It is the Tuesday before the NCAA tournament, two days before their first-round game, and I know nothing about Duke basketball. Following a stretch during which I convinced myself that I finally understood this team and their perverse and wrong-footed ways, I am now fully confused again. Friday's 74–69 loss to UNC in the ACC tournament semifinals was so jangled and strange, so star-crossed and weird, and such the antithesis of the team’s recent play that I am being forced to re-examine questions about this group's viability as a Final Four contender that I had previously considered resolved. Yes, they...

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Grayson Allen Is Still a Dirtbag and Other Notes from a Strange ACC Semifinal

Posted By on Sat, Mar 10, 2018 at 3:13 PM

Grayson Allen is still a dirtbag. Which is why his Tie Domi impression earned him a flagrant foul. If any other player in the country commits that transgression, it’s an on-the-floor foul. But given the reputation Allen has rightfully earned over the years, a flagrant one was the call to make. Sure, last night’s move wasn’t nearly as low-class as some of his greatest hits, but I can’t be alone in saying that whatever transpires over the next few weeks of tournament play, most can agree that no longer having to watch him play basketball will be a treat. It’s sad,...

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Friday, March 9, 2018

After the Blue Devils’ Dominating Win Against the Irish, Is There Any Way UNC Stops Them?

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 5:58 AM

The quarterfinals of the 2018 ACC Tournament have concluded and a heavyweight title fight between Duke and UVA in the championship game looms auspiciously in the offing. While neither team is guaranteed a spot in the finals, both behemoths made statements against formidable competition on Thursday, giving their collision course an intractable feel. After watching the Cavs demolish Louisville in an afternoon contest, the Blue Devils made easy work of a tough Notre Dame team desperate for a win that might have vouchsafed their chances for an NCAA Tournament selection. Duke has spent the past several weeks ironing out the...

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

We Need to Talk About Roy Williams’s Jacket

Posted By on Thu, Mar 8, 2018 at 4:01 PM

North Carolina’s ACC tournament adventure got off to a banner start last night with a 78–59 rout of the Syracuse Orangemen, a contest that saw the Tar Heels take an early lead and methodically extend their advantage during a largely pressure-free second-half runaway. Almost no one can win a game when they shoot a paltry 30 percent from the field, and thanks in large part to Kenny Williams’s complete shutdown of stud Tyus Battle, that’s all that Syracuse could muster. On an evening that saw the Heels allow season lows in points, field goals, and shooting percentage, Carolina took it...

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Mark It Down: Duke’s Going to Win the ACC Tournament

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2018 at 6:12 PM

For twenty minutes of last Saturday's regular-season-ending contest at Cameron Indoor, a weird pall hung over the proceedings. In Grayson Allen's final home game, the Blue Devils frequently looked slow on defense, tentative on offense, and overmatched on the boards. When a late run at the end of the first half sent the Tar Heels into the locker room with a ten-point lead, it appeared that a hugely gifted Duke team prone to lapses and letdowns might well fail to rise to this most epic of occasions. And then the deluge. Looking for all the world like an entirely different squad,...

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

How Far Will the Tar Heels Go in the ACC Tournament?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 6, 2018 at 3:46 PM

Four seeds, two extra days of rest, an automatic appearance in the quarterfinal, and a potential one-seed in the Big Dance—not to mention the bragging rights that come with a season sweep and a win on your rival’s home court. That’s about everything Carolina saw slip through their fingers with Saturday’s loss at Cameron Indoor. Now the Tar Heels need to take a more pedestrian route through arguably America’s toughest conference—one the so-called experts predict could have as many as eleven tournament bids—if they want to take home their nineteenth conference championship. As the sixth seed, the Heels earned a...

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Friday, March 2, 2018

UNC vs. Duke: Three Ways the Tar Heels (and the Blue Devils) Can Claim Victory on Saturday

Posted By on Fri, Mar 2, 2018 at 3:01 PM

What is billed as “Senior Night” in gymnasiums around the country should more appropriately be called “Freshman Night” at Cameron Indoor, as it will likely be the final game in Durham for Duke’s trio of one-and-dones, Marvin Bagley III, Wendell Carter Jr., and Gary Trent Jr. There’s also the matter of bidding Grayson Allen adieu, though almost no one outside of Durham will be sad to see him go. Saturday’s game will likely be the final time that Duke’s heralded, if underwhelming, freshman class takes the court together for a regular-season game, and it will be the Tar Heels’ mission...

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Week in Duke Hoops: Why Does the Blue Devils’ Offense Stall When Both Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley Are on the Floor?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 3:02 PM

The Skinny Over the course of a recent five-game stretch and deep into the late stages of a sixth one, the Blue Devils appeared capable of doing very little wrong. Following their February 8 loss at UNC, Duke ran off a string of impressive performances during which they vanquished worthy foes with relative ease and appeared to be gelling at precisely the correct time. On Saturday, a visiting Syracuse team ran into a buzzsaw at Cameron, with a returning Marvin Bagley III racking up nineteen points and appearing none the worse off from his recent knee sprain. In one...

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Heartbreak at the Buzzer: The Week in UNC Hoops

Posted By on Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 4:52 PM

The Skinny Carolina took their five-game winning streak into one of basketball’s most iconic arenas last Wednesday for a date with the Syracuse Orange. Ever a hard place to earn a W, the Carrier Dome was its usual orange sea as the Heels took the court and went blow for blow over the course of the night. With every punch the Heels landed, the Orange countered, keeping Carolina well within reach throughout the entire game. Theo Pinson continued playing better than he ever has as a Tar Heel, notching a career-high twenty-three points. Unable to put the game on...

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Exhausted Olympics, Le Fin: In Which We Get Tired of Curling

Posted By on Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 10:28 AM

As part of our ongoing, comprehensive coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics, we have assigned chronic insomniac Elizabeth Nelson and brand-new, first-time father Mike V. to turn on the TV and share their reflections whenever they might happen to remember to do so. The INDY's Exhausted Olympics Coverage™ is the sole property of the INDY, and in the event of a legal dispute, the party that loses must pay the winning party's court costs. In today’s final edition, Mike V. ponders press credentials, tires of curling, finally takes his long-suffering wife out for hot dogs, and ponders many more baffling...

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Back to the Future: The Panthers End Their Search for a New GM Where It Began, with Team Fixture Marty Hurney

Posted By on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 1:17 PM

Last week, the Carolina Panthers search for a new general manager ended where it began, with the rehiring of longtime organization fixture and current interim GM Marty Hurney. This marks Hurney's second official tenure as GM, although in many ways it feels like he never went away. During his first stint on the job, from 2002–12, Hurney by and large proved an astute talent evaluator, and much of the Panthers’ hard-nosed physical identity mirrors the executive's preference for teams built around stout defense and a run-heavy offense. Hurney has proven particularly effective at the top of his draft classes, snagging...

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Daytona 500 Wrap-up: Austin Dillon’s Cheap Triumph and the Emergence of a New NASCAR Star

Posted By on Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 11:51 AM

On Sunday, Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500. Scour the dubious comment threads and subreddits and you’ll find plenty of people who argue that, despite his crossing the finish line before anyone else, Austin Dillon did not win the Daytona 500. To comprehend this logic, you must first understand that auto racing has something of an unspoken code of conduct. This code is a set of rules not enforced by racing’s governing bodies, rather they are enforced by drivers on the track and reflected in driver’s reputations around the garage. These are rules by which drivers race, like moving aside...

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Final Four or Bust: The Week in Duke Hoops

Posted By on Wed, Feb 21, 2018 at 9:17 PM

The Skinny In what has been a wild ride of a 2018 season, the Blue Devils capped off arguably their most impressive weeklong stretch of the campaign with convincing victories over pesky Virginia Tech and eleventh-ranked Clemson. The Hokies rolled into Cameron last Wednesday fresh off a stunning road win at No. 1 Virginia, and coupled with Marvin Bagley III's third-straight absence, the contest appeared ripe for a nip and tuck affair. After a back and forth beginning, however, Duke put the pedal down with a 7–0 run to end the first half and rode the wave of momentum...

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Not So Bad After All: The Week in UNC Hoops

Posted By on Tue, Feb 20, 2018 at 4:22 PM

The Skinny Maybe Carolina isn’t in the dire straits we’d presumed a few weeks back when they dropped an uncharacteristic three straight games. Maybe their thrilling win over Duke was the spark that brought this team together. Maybe, contrary to what yours truly posited not too long ago, this year’s Tar Heels are exactly who we thought they would be going into the season. They sure look that way right now. The Heels are riding a four-game winning streak that could ostensibly extend to six before their final matchup with the Blue Devils on March 3. After a brutal...

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Friday, February 16, 2018

The INDY’s Daytona 500 Preview Spectacular, Part 1: Can Defending Monster Cup Champ Martin Truex Jr. Repeat?

Posted By on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 4:12 PM

Over of the past three weeks, the INDY'S resident NASCAR fanatic Mike V. has previewed his favorites to be this year's Cup Champion. On the occasion of this weekend's Great American Race, he makes his final pick and takes us on a sentimental journey with defending champion Martin Truex Jr. It's part 1 of the INDY's Daytona 500 Preview Spectacular!  ———— Often he chokes back tears during his post-race interviews in Victory Lane. He has a now-signature pause, a look into whatever is beyond the throngs of the exultant pit crew, familiar well-wishers, NASCAR hangers-on, scantily-clad Monster Energy drink girls, and whoever...

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The INDY’s Daytona 500 Preview Spectacular, Part 2: A Brief Chat with North Carolina’s Own Ryan Blaney

Posted By on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 2:17 PM

Over of the past three weeks, the INDY'S resident NASCAR fanatic Mike V. has previewed his favorites to be this year's Cup Champion. On the occasion of this weekend's Great American Race, he had a brief chat with North Carolina's own star-in-the-making, Ryan Blaney. It's part 2 of the INDY's Daytona 500 Preview Spectacular!  INDY: Talk to me about your roots in North Carolina. Blaney: Well I was born in Ohio but moved to North Carolina when I was about four or five, when my dad started racing in NASCAR. Growing up around the sport and watching it all work at an early...

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

After a Loss at the Dean Dome, the Blue Devils’ Season Is in the Balance: The Week in Duke Hoops

Posted By on Wed, Feb 14, 2018 at 5:26 PM

The Skinny An ugly stretch got uglier for the Blue Devils on Thursday, as the team lost again in their first start since a stunning defeat at St. John’s, this time to the suddenly surging UNC at the Dean Dome. A crisp early pace and a visible advantage in natural playmakers seemed to foretell a Duke victory, and Blue Devils held a 45–42 advantage following a freewheeling first half. All of that changed after the Tar Heels began the second frame with a blistering 16–2 run, eventually holding on for an 82–78 win on the strength of Kenny Williams’s...

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Exhausted Olympics, Vol. 2: So Where's MY Medal? Seventy-two Hours of Fear, Anticipation, Fatherhood, and the XIII Olympiad.

Posted By on Wed, Feb 14, 2018 at 5:20 PM

As part of our ongoing, comprehensive coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics, we have assigned chronic insomniac Elizabeth Nelson and brand-new, first-time father Mike V. to turn on the TV and share their reflections whenever they might happen to remember to do so. The INDY's Exhausted Olympics Coverage™ is the sole property of the INDY, and in the event of a legal dispute, the party that loses must pay the winning party's court costs. For our current installment, Mike V. brings new life into the world, suggests potential Olympic improvements, and consigns his new son to a career in curling....

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Down Go the Blue Devils! And the Pack! A Good Week in UNC Hoops.

Posted By on Mon, Feb 12, 2018 at 2:28 PM

The Skinny The loud hum of airborne helicopters passing overhead late Thursday night could only mean one thing: that the fires burned on Franklin Street, that Chapel Hill was in a communal state of exaltation, that the Heels had beaten the Blue Devils. At the Smith Center on Thursday, the Tar Heels put together arguably their most complete game since the onset of conference play, capping the night off with an emphatic dunk from the revelatory-of-late Theo Pinson, who once again brought a furious brand of play and was everywhere for the majority of the night. That the Heels...

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The Diary of an Insomniac Olympics Junkie, Vol. 1

Posted By on Mon, Feb 12, 2018 at 2:17 PM

As part of our ongoing, comprehensive coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics, we have assigned chronic insomniac Elizabeth Nelson and brand-new, first-time father Mike V. to turn on the TV and share their reflections whenever they might happen to remember to do so, something we’re calling the INDY’s Exhausted Olympics Coverage™. For our current installment, we transcribe Elizabeth’s first weekend journals, dropped off at the offices early this morning in a breadbox-sized valise. Friday 10:50 PM EST I’ve just awoken at an irregular hour. My days have become a permeable thing, confusedly perched between sunlight and darkness. Attribute it to...

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Friday, February 9, 2018

As Long as Kyle Larson’s 42 Car Is on the Track, He’s Got a Fighting Chance to Win

Posted By on Fri, Feb 9, 2018 at 4:49 PM

In advance of the Daytona 500 on February 18, the INDY’s in-house NASCAR aficionado, Mike V, has been previewing drivers he predicts will emerge as the primary contenders for this year’s cup championship. In the previous editions, he caught us up on the charismatic North Carolinian Ryan Blaney and one of racing’s greatest heels in Kyle Busch. This week, he dishes on one of NASCAR’s best wheelmen—and his choice to take the checkered flag at The Great American Race. Kyle Larson has what it takes to be one of the best drivers in the history of NASCAR. He’s a unicorn...

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Losing to the Unranked St. John’s? Damn: The Week in Duke Hoops

Posted By on Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 2:34 PM

The Skinny In a season that’s seen the young Blue Devils make progress in fits and starts, this past Saturday's shocking loss at St. John's represents a nadir for this powerfully gifted, maddeningly inconsistent team to overcome. How did this happen? Duke had looked sharp in its previous start against Notre Dame, and a loss at the Garden to a struggling Red Storm team on an eleven-game losing streak seemed one step removed from impossible. That occurrence appeared no more likely after the Blue Devils took a seven-point lead into the half, but if you looked closely, the signs...

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Welcome to the INDY's Exhausted Coverage of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games™

Posted By on Wed, Feb 7, 2018 at 4:42 PM

With the Winter Olympics set to open in two days—though you can catch the first event, doubles curling, at eleven p.m. tonight on NBCSN—we bring you the INDY's official Exhausted Coverage of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games™, in which newly minted first-time father Michael Venutolo-Mantovani and committed insomniac Elizabeth Nelson attempt to make sense of the games from Pyeongchang, South Korea, while mostly or entirely asleep. With the games taking place God only knows what hour of the day and featuring events ranging from the familiar to the narrowly comprehensible, these two intrepid writers have promised semi-regular updates on the XXIII...

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Three Conference Losses, a Sloppy Win (and No Biscuits), Some Days Off, Now Duke: The Week in UNC Hoops

Posted By on Wed, Feb 7, 2018 at 11:40 AM

The Skinny Three straight conference losses hadn’t befallen the University of North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team since 2014, yet the Heels came back from South Carolina after last Tuesday’s defeat at Clemson matching that dubious streak. Clemson’s early onslaught of three-pointers left the Heels in such a deep hole that they couldn’t ride the wave of Cameron Johnson’s career-high thirty-two-point night to a comeback against the Tigers. A running theme for Carolina seems to be that they can’t get more than two guys hot at a time. Whether it’s Theo Pinson and Luke Maye, Johnson and Joel...

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Friday, February 2, 2018

Sorry, Haters, but the New England Patriots Are Going to Win Super Bowl LII

Posted By on Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 3:28 PM

I've watched every Super Bowl for the past thirty years and I can't remember a single one I had a stranger feeling about beforehand. I've made predictions, I've been right, I've been wrong, but rarely have I been so confused. There's a lot of weird stuff happening around this game. It's weird, the Nick Foles of it all. Is Nick Foles good? If Nick Foles is good, why was he buried on the Rams’ depth chart two years ago? Why couldn't he find a starting job in the NFL after his breakout 2013 season, when he threw for a frankly...

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