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Joe Boozell | | February 28, 2018

Coach K vs. Roy: Breaking down the rivalry since Williams took over

Duke's Krzyzewski vs UNC's Williams

Duke and North Carolina will square off on Saturday night in another edition of perhaps the best rivalry in sports.

The Tar Heels and Blue Devils have split their last 100 matchups – a mere seven points separate them. But let’s get even more specific: Roy Williams took the UNC job in 2003, and his battles with Mike Krzyzewski have been legendary. How do the two stack up?

Here’s what the rivalry has looked like since Williams arrived in Chapel Hill.


  • Duke and North Carolina have faced each other 31 times since 2003-04. The Blue Devils are 18-13 against the Tar Heels in that span.

  • The longest winning streak during that stretch is four – Duke won every matchup between March 8, 2014 and Feb. 17, 2016.

  • Since 2003-04, Duke and North Carolina have competed at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Dean Smith Center and the ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils hold the edge at all three venues – they’re 8-7 at the Dean Dome, 8-6 at Cameron and 2-0 in the ACC Tournament.

  • Duke has outscored North Carolina by a total of 36 points in those matchups – 2,405 to 2,369 – which is an average of 1.16 points per game.

  • North Carolina’s 2005 recruiting class – featuring Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green and Marcus Ginyard – has had the most success against Duke in this time period. The group went 6-2 against Duke in four years.

  • Six of the 31 matchups have been decided by two points or less. Duke is 5-1 in those games.

  • The last nine Duke-North Carolina matchups have been decided by 10 points or fewer. In total, 22 of the 31 games have been decided by 10 points or fewer. The largest margin of victory was 32, when Duke blew out UNC in 2010.

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That’s the head-to-head story. Now, let’s take a look at how the programs have fared as a whole since Williams’ arrival.

  • National Championship: UNC triumphs over Gonzaga
    North Carolina has three national championships (2005, 2009, 2017) to Duke’s two (2010, 2015).

  • North Carolina has five Final Four appearances (2005, 2008, 2009, 2016, 2017) to Duke’s three (2004, 2010, 2015).

  • The Tar Heels have dominated the ACC in Williams’ tenure – he’s won the regular season title eight times to Krzyzewski’s three since 2004.

  • But Coach K edges Williams in total wins since 2003-04 – Duke has 432 in that span; North Carolina has 420.

  • Duke has made the NCAA tournament every year of this stretch. UNC missed it once (2010).  

Both fan bases have reasons to be proud. Duke has outperformed North Carolina when the two have shared the court, but overall, the Tar Heels have accomplished more over the last 15 years.

As seen above, these schools have played a bunch of close games. Here are some of the most memorable over the past decade and a half.

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Feb. 4, 2004: Duke 83, North Carolina 81 (OT)

Chris Duhon’s layup with 6.5 seconds left lifted Duke to an overtime victory in Williams’ first taste of the Duke-UNC rivalry.

March 6, 2005: North Carolina 75, Duke 73

The Tar Heels trailed Duke by nine points with 3:04 left on Senior Day in Chapel Hill. Raymond Felton, Sean May and Marvin Williams spearheaded the Tar Heels’ comeback, and J.J. Redick’s 3-pointer rimmed out at the final buzzer to give UNC the victory.

Feb. 8, 2012: Duke 85, North Carolina 84

UNC was on cruise control for most of the second half, but Tyler Thornton and Seth Curry got hot from deep to narrow the gap. With 14 seconds left, UNC’s Tyler Zeller accidentally tipped the ball into Duke’s basket, decreasing the Tar Heels’ lead from three to one.

Then, it was Austin Rivers time. Rivers nailed the game-winning 3 as time expired and finished with 29 points on the evening.

Feb. 18, 2015: Duke 92, North Carolina 90

The game happened in the days after Dean Smith’s passing, and players and coaches from both sides joined at half court in a moment of silence before tip.

The game was a classic. Duke trailed UNC with about two and a half minutes left, but Tyus Jones got hot for the Blue Devils to send the game to overtime. There, Duke prevailed, continuing its pattern of winning close games over its biggest rival.

Feb. 8, 2018: North Carolina 82, Duke 78

The most recent result. A common theme in this rivalry — comebacks. The Tar Heels trailed by 12 in the first half, but rallied to top the Blue Devils by four.

In his last home game against Duke, Joel Berry scored 21 points and had six assists. It was a much-needed win for UNC, which was struggling in ACC play but had also lost six of its last eight meetings against Duke.

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