Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN will be the 149th consecutive meeting between the two teams in which one or both of them is ranked in the Associated Press poll. The last time neither was ranked in a matchup was Feb. 27, 1960.
As is always the case, expect lots of action, some fireworks, some jabs, some stellar freshmen and some incredible basketball. Lately, Duke has a 23-22 edge over North Carolina, but UNC has outscored Duke by a total of 13 points in those 45 games. Only three points separate these teams in the 103 meetings since 1976 -- Duke has 7,988 points to UNC's 7,985. The Tar Heels have a 52-51 edge in those games.
So as we gear up for what should be some fine basketball, we asked our coaches to walk down memory lane and give us their thoughts on their favorite star from the all-time series, and who they thought was underrated.
Name the one star from the all-time Duke-North Carolina rivalry you most loved to watch ...
Seth Greenberg: "Phil Ford. Talk about a player who absolutely controlled the game, and had the pulse of the game in his hands, every second of the game offensively and defensively. You watched him and his poise, his grace, his ability to lead, his management ... he was just a guy that epitomized what Carolina basketball was. He was absolutely connected at the hip with Coach [Dean] Smith. He was fiercely competitive. When I think of players, it's easy to say Michael Jordan; there have been so many great players in this rivalry. But Phil Ford is a guy that literally was the reflection of his coach and had the pulse of his team."
Fran Fraschilla: "It's not close: Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina, because he epitomizes 'bad blood' in this rivalry. Not only was he undefeated in his four years at Cameron Indoor, but he was the recipient of a Gerald Henderson attempt to block Tyler's shot, and instead Henderson blocked his nose. The blood streaming all over Tyler's face that night in 2007 is one of the most vivid memories of this incredible basketball rivalry. Tyler played with a passion and intensity nearly unmatched, but perfectly suited for the battle between the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils."
Dan Dakich: "I'll say Eric Montross. I knew his dad and stuff. He became symbolic of the rivalry when he got hit in the head and he was bleeding all down the side of his face. He looked like a professional wrestler. I didn't like Eric because we recruited him to Indiana -- he was from Indianapolis -- but he went to North Carolina. So I didn't like him for that, but I liked him for everything else. Like I said, when he got hit in the head and blood was pouring down his face, I kind of liked that."
... and name one underrated player from the rivalry people should talk about more.
Greenberg: "My unsung is a team: Jay Bilas' team, the 1982 class of Blue Devils. If you think about what Coach K is today, and what he built at Duke, he is not Coach K without this class. If not for this class of Johnny Dawkins, Jay Bilas, Mark Alarie, Weldon Williams and David Henderson, he's still Mike Krzyzewski. Those guys obviously got their doors blown off their freshman year, and their sophomore year, they beat Carolina in the ACC tournament after losing a brutal double-overtime game to them. And on senior night their senior year at home [in March 1986], they beat Carolina for their first outright ACC championship in 20 years. Now, Dawkins has scored the most points [196*] for Duke in the history of the Carolina rivalry under Krzyzewski, but I can't pick one player. That class signifies Duke basketball. So the legend of iconic Coach K, of Duke basketball -- he, and the team, wouldn't be what they are without that team. Despite having Bilas in that group." **
Fraschilla: "Larry Brown and Art Heyman. Larry, of course, went on to a Hall of Fame coaching career. Both players grew up on Long Island in the late 1950s and early '60s and for various reasons, chose North Carolina [Brown] and Duke [Heyman]. These two guys are underrated because they are part of an historic brawl in February 1961, when both teams were in the top 5 in the country. That brawl, in large part, is responsible for the incredible, at times, hatred between the two schools when it comes to basketball. They ended up as great college players and good professionals later on, but as young players, we might not watch guys like Christian Laettner, Hubert Davis, J.R. Reid and Bobby Hurley with the same interest in this rivalry."
Dakich: "OK, I'm going to say the same guy: Montross. He played on teams that were great at North Carolina, but because he wasn't flashy, or a guy that people didn't gravitate toward -- he was this big ol' guy -- he was an easy target. I think over the years he played really, really well, and really hard -- not only in that rivalry but at North Carolina, in general. He won a national title and played in a Final Four. Those Duke crowds picked on him, and he just went out to win games and play really hard."
*Mike Gminski has the most points overall for Duke in the rivalry: 241 points scored between 1976-80, when Bill Foster was head coach.
Information from ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.