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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Durham Sports Commission Helped Bring the ACC Baseball Tournament Back to Town, and It’s Just Getting Started

Posted By on Tue, Jun 12, 2018 at 4:00 PM

Established in August 2016, the nonprofit Durham Sports Commission was designed to attract and promote athletic events within the Bull City. Funded by the city and corporate sponsors, the organization has made a major splash during its initial two-year run, culminating in its role in bringing the ACC baseball championship tournament back to Durham last month for the first time since HB 2. We spoke with executive director Ashleigh Bachert about the DSC’s founding, the challenge of overcoming the negative stigma associated with the so-called bathroom bill, and some of the exciting events the commission has planned for the near...

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Carolina Fans: Villanova Is Your Team, If Only for Tonight

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2018 at 4:58 PM

I get the looks all over town. General unease at best. Outright scowls, seething anger, gritted teeth, and barely contained rage at worst. Every now and again and for a few instants, the placidness of our beautiful little town is broken and the passion of its denizens overtakes their inherent kindness. I’m a die-hard Villanova fan, a proud alum of a Villanova family, and I live in the center of Chapel Hill. And whenever I wear the dark blue and white, my Nova colors, around town, I can feel everyone looking, wishing very bad things might befall me. I...

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Monday, March 26, 2018

That's a Wrap: Duke Bows to Kansas in the Elite Eight

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2018 at 2:25 PM

Well, that was unpleasant. Following forty-five minutes of back-and-forth play between two remarkably well-matched adversaries, Duke's season ended with a run to the Elite Eight and an overtime loss to a number-one seeded Kansas team that stayed neck and neck with the Blue Devils’ surfeit of thoroughbred talent. The Jayhawks were saved when Grayson Allen's last-second shot in regulation seemed to hit every possible surface but the net—and were also aided by a very shaky blocking call against Wendell Carter in overtime—but ultimately Duke did plenty to lose on their own. Faced with a well-coached and confident team in Kansas,...

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Friday, March 23, 2018

How Duke Will Triumph Tonight: Four Scenarios

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 5:13 PM

First off, let’s try to be reasonable. Anyone who watched Duke annihilate their opponents in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, while countless fellow tourney favorites including UNC and Virginia were resoundingly trounced by lower-seeded teams, can be forgiven for racing to the conclusion that the Blue Devils are fated and indeed honor bound to cut down the nets in San Antonio on April 2. That is certainly my position, one further emboldened by a Syracuse upset of Michigan State that spared Duke a potentially treacherous rematch against the Spartans. Yes, there are still games to play. Yes,...

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tar Heels Replacement Therapy: Things to Do Now That Obsessing Over UNC Is Off the Table

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2018 at 5:35 PM

With a whimper and an arena full of stunned locals, the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team saw their season end Sunday. They were beaten badly by a Texas A&M squad that was more physical and, on that night, much better shooters. What it all means for Roy Williams, the underclassmen on the roster, scores of Heels fans and alumni around the country, and students and denizens of Chapel Hill is frankly no longer my problem (unless, of course, my editors insist that it is). Over the past few months, I upheld a weekly promise to cover the...

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Monday, March 19, 2018

The Curtain Falls on a Golden Age of Carolina Basketball

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 3:02 PM

What was this season, I wonder? Was Carolina’s drubbing at the hands of a much less talented but far more physical Texas A&M team an anomaly? Perhaps it was closer to the norm. Did Carolina punch far above their weight as the season wound down, or did they underachieve in a handful of winnable games? Was a second-round exit apropos? Should these Heels have gone much further? Did anyone really expect another Final Four run out of this squad? All of these questions no doubt will be discussed to death over beers at Topo and plates of home fries...

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

I've Seen Enough and I'm Back on Duke's Lunatic Bandwagon

Posted By on Sun, Mar 18, 2018 at 3:27 PM

Has there ever been a Duke team that is harder to get a handle on? Ten days after a very shaky loss to UNC in the ACC Tournament semifinals, the Blue Devils ran roughshod over their first two opponents in the Big Dance, laying waste to an overmatched Iona team on Thursday and appearing even more dominant against a more fairly matched Rhode Island squad that was reasonably expected to pose problems. Saturday's 87–62 public execution of the seventh-seeded Rams was just short of shocking, coming against an experienced team that entered the contest with a 26–7 record and a...

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bring On Lipscomb! UNC's Title Defense Begins Friday.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 2:37 PM

Many argue that Carolina’s two-seed was an overstatement, that a ten-loss team should not be rewarded with a second seed, that Duke, Clemson, and Miami all had better overall records and better slates in ACC play yet were awarded lesser two-, five, and six-seeds, respectively. On the opposite side of that argument are the people who take into account more advanced metrics, such as the fact that UNC played the hardest schedule in the country this season and had fourteen Quadrant 1 wins, thus making ten losses somewhat more palatable. Whatever your stance, Carolina’s hunt for a third consecutive appearance...

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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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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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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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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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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

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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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Sure, the Blue Devils Lost to the Cavs. No, It Doesn’t Really Matter: The Week in Duke Hoops

Posted By on Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 9:34 AM

The Skinny The No. 4 Blue Devils and the No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers finally crossed paths in Durham this past Saturday in arguably the most anticipated college game of the season to date. While by no means an instant classic, the battle for ACC supremacy evolved from an early showcase of the Cavs’ dominance into a down-to-the-wire tactical struggle, with UVA holding off the home team for a 65–63 victory. Nothing about the contest itself proved particularly revelatory—the two combatants entered the matchup as deep and gifted teams with a legitimate shot at the Final Four, and the events...

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Tar Heels Dropped Two in a Row and Maybe Aren’t Actually All That Good This Year

Posted By on Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 12:47 PM

The Skinny Carolina’s move back into the AP Top 10 lasted less than half a day, when mere hours after they were anointed once again as one of the nation’s ten best teams, they engaged in a maddening no-show at Virginia Tech. Unlike their last trip to our northern neighbor (a January 6 61-49 loss at UVA) the points were there in Blacksburg. The general effort and any sense of intensity, on the other hand, was left in Chapel Hill, which is a burgeoning theme as this season wears on. While the Heels have ground out some rather impressive...

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