By Connor Buestad
So I’ve been in a debate with the head honcho at www.roguementality.com over what is the best Duke v. Carolina game ever (the two teams renew their rivalry tonight in Durham via ESPN at 6).
I’ve argued that the ’95 tilt featuring Jeff Capel’s half court prayer to force a second OT is the best ever. Below you will find my argument (watch a replay of this game on iTunes for 3 bucks, btw).
As @the_rogue likes to put it, here is me “Giving My Five Good Reasons” #GMFGR
1. Upset City.
Duke was 0-7 in the ACC leading up to this 1995 matchup. Meanwhile, Carolina was 16-1 and ranked number 2 in the country. While Duke was trotting out the likes of Cherokee Parks and Ricky Price, Carolina was countering with Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace. Of course, in the end the Dukies fell short in double OT, but it was a wonder they were even competitive in this game.
2. The Unbridled Passion.
When Cherokke walks out to center court to tip off the game with ‘Sheed, the gym is literally rocking up and down. The camera is bouncing all over the place. The Cameron Crazies are going bonkers for the entirety of this classic game. Dick Vitale is beside himself when Capel’s half court prayer is answered at the end of the first OT. Dickie V claims he is “blacking out” at one point. Of course, during the replay, Dick mentions that Capel’s shot “tickled the twine”… poetry.
3. The Circumstances
Duke was down by eight points with 28 seconds to go in OT number one, and they still managed to tie it up and force a second OT. Down eight with under 30 seconds to play? A three possession game? Are you ser-i-hosss? Not to mention the fact that Serge Zwikker was at the line shooting two, up three with four seconds to play. Needles to say, he missed both…the rest is history.
4. The Characters
Beside having Dickie V in the booth, you had Wojo slapping the floor all over the place, Dean Smith being Dean Smith, Rasheed Wallace actually playing hard, Jerry Stackhouse rocking the number 42, Trajan “The Alaskan Assassin” Langdon bombing threes… the list is endless.
5. The Sound of the Buzzer.
When Serge Zwikker is shooting those two free throws with four seconds on the clock, Cameron Indoor Stadium goes completely bananas. Three seconds later, just after Capel lets fly, there is utter silence except for the sound of the final buzzer. Then…BOOM. Bedlam ensues on Tobacco Road.
Enjoy the game tonite, brothers and sisters. As always, I expect a dandy.