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There must be something in the water

Sports Writer

There’s something special about North Carolina sports. It’s not easily quantifiable, but if there was any doubt, Wednesday’s Duke-Chapel Hill game confirmed it.
Sometimes I feel like basketball games should be two minutes long, since that’s when all of the drama happens anyway, but when it comes to big-time rivalry games I can make an exception.
I should say, on the record, that I don’t have a dog in the Duke-UNC fight.
I didn’t attend either school and I wasn’t born in this state. I’m prone to pull for the underdog, like most people, but there doesn’t seem to be one in that battle.
I remember moving here as a 10 year-old kid and Carolina fans pushing their school on me relentlessly, so I pushed back, but I think I’ve gotten over that.
I also don’t watch a lot of professional or college basketball. I keep up with the stories and I’ll watch the highlights on television, but sitting through an entire college or professional game on the tube borders on torture for me.
The high school game is a bit different, there’s a sense of tension and volatility that’s absent when a game comes through on a screen.
I generally use winter as a time to brush up on the horse races and fishing programs, and study the offseason trades ahead of baseball season.
I haven’t seen the ratings from the game, but they had to be huge, and people got their money’s worth.
The game had the classic storyline — two teams with incredible talent, both ranked in the top 25 and one of the most heated rivalries in college basketball with the two best coaches in the college game.
What’s even better, if there was ever a “fairytale ending,” that was it. Even if Austin Rivers put his basketball shoes in the closet and never played another game for the rest of his life, he could still say that he came through when it mattered most.
Maybe it’s the climate here that helps produce these amazing moments in sport over and over again.
Anywhere that you can play golf on almost every day in January and February has to be good for something.
North Carolina has the almost perfect paradigm of the difference between professional and collegiate sports. Our professional teams are, outside of a few moments of brilliance, overwhelmingly poor.
At the same time, our public universities are some of the best in the country and have created athletic dynasties that are essentially unrivaled.
All that’s left to do now is convince a few of those college stars that it’s in their best interests to stick around for a few more years.
I bet Rivers would have a good laugh at the prospect of starting out his professional career with the dreaded Bobcats.
Michael Gebelein is a sports writer with the Lincoln Times-News.

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