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February 08, 2005

This Is Not A Sports Post, Um, Honest

Nature bestows us with wondrous rituals, those perpetual cycles that replenish our comfort in life's familiar rhythm. The cocoon spawns a butterfly; the Monarch flies south on winter's summons; with spring comes the call of home.

Or:  Carolina plays Duke tomorrow night.

That is How It Works. This is How It Ought to Be. The Super Bowl ends; the NFL disappears; college basketball kicks into high gear. It is a merciful transformation.

Nature, alas, doesn't always get her routines right. In recent years, UNC teetered to and fro, veering from OK to sort-of-OK and back. It was a glitch in the system, an unexpected mutation. But the world, as it does, has corrected itself. The Tar Heels, now perched at No. 2 in the nation, again inhabit a rightful realm. "Felton-McCants-Williams-May" is taking on the familiar strains of "Jordan-Worthy-Perkins-Black."

Duke, meanwhile, is close to tumbling out of the Top Ten. This too is the way things should be — contrary to the beliefs of those with short memories. These are the folks awed into ignorance by the pedestal upon which Duke basketball has been placed during the past decade. But it's worth remembering that in the grand scheme of things, in the broad evolutionary picture where a year is just a blink, the reality is that Duke, like, sucks.

It's certainly true that Carolina-vs.-Duke, a battle between schools just eight miles apart, is one of the premier rivalries in all of modern sport — certainly the fiercest in college athletics. But I've been around long enough to remember when the real rivalry was between UNC and N.C. State. Those games mattered, because those teams were good. Duke did not matter, because Duke was not.

But bygones can be bygones, so we shall temporarily forgive Blue Devils basketball for being so bad for so long. Because right now, Wednesday night is important stuff.

The Super Bowl was Sunday, but with Wednesday night looming (9 p.m., ESPN!), nothing else this week matters. And as Carolina trots out of Cameron Indoor Stadium (Heels by 17!) for the late-night cruise back over to Chapel Hill, we'll remember that in the long run, nature is always, inevitably right.

Posted by Semolina Pilchard on February 8, 2005 at 01:31 AM | Permalink

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