Smackdown: North Carolina vs. Duke

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North Carolina -- We produce actual NBA Players By Nicki JhabvalaIt's shocking, really. Mike Krzyzewski is nearing the end of a season and he has yet to squander the talent of his current players. (Key word: yet.) Gerald Henderson has nearly quadrupled his scoring average since last year and can still leap out of the gym. DeMarcus Nelson has improved with almost every game, let alone year. Froshy Kyle Singler still holds his high-school reputation of a scorer from all over the floor.

I'll admit it. (Hold on, let me breathe before I say this.) The Dookies have some incredible players and their success has surprised some this year, myself included. If they can refrain from fouling to the point of blood spewing, or using their favorite defensive play, the flop, the Blue Devils may have the upper hand at the Thrill on Wednesday.

If I do have to experience the temporary pain of seeing an arena full of Ivy-League rejects fulfill their cheerleading fantasies as Crazies -- fantasies that can only be achieved by having their cheers choreographed, written down, memorized and rehearsed during pregame pow-wows so as to flaunt their lack of true talent beyond face-painting, T-shirt-making, key-chain ringing, spirit-finger-waving, and booing to millions across the country -- jumping for joy at the Dean Dome, I can sleep at night knowing such a win is merely the peak in the careers of the gullible Coach K disciples.

Once they leave the Bull City, they'll be worthless.

See, even if the four-letter-word spewing K and his Dookies were to sweep the Tar Heels and claim the ACC Tournament title for the next 10 years, they would still be losers. Literally. They'd be trailing the in the all-time rivalry. Right now, Carolina is ahead 127-96. (Such a small number compared to Duke's tuition that it often slips past Dook fans. Not as many zeros as daddy's bank account).

Carolina players have 34 NBA rings, collectively. M.J. owns six alone (and Scott Williams, who followed Jordan around for three seasons, even has a few).

He may be able to recruit, but Krzyzewski's too busy helping American Express than his own players at Dook. He's put 71 players through the NBA Draft. Can anyone name a Dookie who's won an NBA title? It's not a trick question. There's only one right answer. Danny Ferry. One. One measley Dookie. And he was a scrub on the title-bearing Spurs a few years ago.

Coach K's a master at wasting talent. Lucky for him, though, Greg Paulus has remained steady throughout his Duke career. He continues to be an abomination to the sport. Absolutely no basketball talent, therefore requiring no extra effort in making a useless, huddle-happy, waste of scholarship money. Insteady of becoming a pigskin hero at any other school, he's one of Duke's, (as one devoted Tar Heel calls them) "floor-slapping goons."

Sure, the Heels have floated at the top, or near the top, this season, but there's always that possibility that the Dookies may let their talent show through - despite K. And as Dickie V. will be the first to point out "There's nothing to criticize!" we all know the Dookies days are numbered.

Nicki Jhabvala -- a former Tar Heel -- currently works as a Producer at

Duke -- We didn't give Mike Nifong a Diploma By Ben CohenBy some sort of Tobacco Road law, Dukies and Tar Heels are obligated to hate each other. It's an accepted and encouraged hatred, ingrained into the culture of both schools to the point where Duke students live in tents for over two months to watch two hours of basketball and their UNC counterparts ... well, they enter a lottery and pray that maybe, just maybe, they will be privileged enough to watch their Tar Heels lose to the Blue Devils all the way from the Dean Dome's upper deck.

Call me a criminal, but I feel little malice toward that school eight miles away. Whether North Carolina students feel differently is another question. It is easy, after all, to despise a school that rejected you. No, I don't hate UNC. I apologize if you anticipated the traditional gameday jabs at UNC, but this Duke student prefers a classier route. At least by taking the high road, I'll be far from former Durham County district attorney Mike Nifong, a proud 1975 UNC graduate and recipient of the school's most prestigious merit scholarship.

I may not abhor North Carolina the way I'm supposed to and I may not be shortsighted enough to deny the Tar Heels a wee bit of respect on the hardwood, but only a UNC student is foolish enough to think Duke will lose Wednesday night.

Come on, the Tar Heels winning? That's more absurd than Tyler Hansbrough donning sequins and grooving to Motown classic Get Ready. Sure, UNC has an insurmountable advantage in boogying -- if Danny Green could trek to Durham and teach me some of his flashy moves, my game (hint: not my long-lost jumper) would be appreciative -- but it's too bad Hansbrough's travels will be the only stepping that matters once the game begins.

Duke, meanwhile, may not have a legitimate post presence to match up with Psycho-T, but that hasn't stopped the Blue Devils from routing other ACC teams with similarly superior frontcourts. The Blue Devils -- ranked higher than the Tar Heels, by the way -- will be undersized in every league game, but by moving forward Kyle Singler to the perimeter instead of the post, they can create their own mismatch problems. When the freshman drifts outside, he clears the lane for penetration-and-kick 3-pointers. Easy as getting into UNC.

In their three closest games this year -- one-point wins over Clemson and Georgia Tech and a loss to Maryland -- the Tar Heels employed Roy Williams' trademark fast-paced offense but the other teams kept up and hung around. If middle-of-the-pack teams can stick with UNC, Duke will lap its rival. Point guards Greg Paulus and Nolan Smith are at their best in transition, and if you've seen highlights of Gerald Henderson and DeMarcus Nelson, you know that running fits them as well as a Hannibal-like facemask suited Hansbrough.

So perhaps I would fail a class in hating my rival (unless, of course, it's taught in Chapel Hill), but predicting North Carolina over Duke? That's a law I'm not willing to break, even if Nifong claims differently.

Ben Cohen is a sophomore at Duke.