President Barack Obama is reportedly expected to attend North Carolina and Duke's Tobacco Road rivalry game on Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Jay Williams and Adam Zagoria but Duke University officials have yet to confirm any plans.
This will be the first of two meetings between the two teams on the season. Duke sits atop the ACC standings with a 23–2 record and is ranked first in the latest AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll. UNC is eighth in the AP poll and ninth in the Coaches' with a 20–5 record.
The storied rivalry game has reportedly brought several celebrities to Durham. Rams running back Todd Gurley was spotted at the Blue Devils practice on Tuesday and President Obama is expected to arrive in time for the game, among others.
When asked about the former president's rumored attendance, Duke's R.J. Barrett couldn't hide his excitement.
"Who?" Barrett asked the reporter mid-question, visibly shocked. "That's amazing. There's going to be a lot of people at the game as always. If he comes, I'm going to be very excited. I know for me it's going to mean a lot to us."
Obama has some history with the Tar Heels. He scrimmaged with the team in 2008 and then welcomed the 2009 national championship team to the White House after defeating Michigan State. In 2017, Obama filled out his March Madness bracket and picked North Carolina to defeat Duke in the national championship.
In 2016, Reggie Love, a former personal aide to Obama and ex-Duke basketball player, shared insight into Obama's admiration of Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.
“He loves Roy Williams,” Love said. “It’s sickening how much he loves Roy Williams. I admire Roy and I admire the Carolina program, but I still have these thorns in my sides because [Obama] never visited Duke’s campus.”
Wednesday night's rivalry game will start at 9 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN. Duke will visit North Carolina for its regular season finale on March 9.