It doesn't get better than Saturday's showdown at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Yes, the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees is special, as is Ohio State and Michigan in college football.
In college basketball, it doesn't get any better than the Tar Heels and Dukies, especially when there is a lot at stake. It is great right before the game, with the intensity, emotion and passion as the players get Goosebumps. To be honest, I get Goosebumps calling this match-up. I have been doing this for 29 years and the excitement and enthusiasm when I walk into that arena is so special.
What is at stake in this weekend's showdown? The ACC regular-season championship for starters. Hall of Fame coaches Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski put a lot of stock in longevity. They believe in sustaining greatness all year, and winning the regular season after battling all season, is something special.
Obviously the ACC tournament and NCAA tournament are very special, but you reach one goal at a time.
In this battle, North Carolina gets a boost with Ty Lawson's availability. Remember, he was out for the first meeting earlier this season. The Tar Heels need to get points in transition.
Tyler Hansbrough is battling Michael Beasley for national Player of the Year honors. He will be a major factor in this match-up, and a strong showing could help him get the award. You know he will be a physical presence in the lane. Hansbrough had 28 points and 18 boards in the first meeting.
Carolina will also need a better shooting performance from Wayne Elllington, who made just three-of-14 from the field, including 0-for-six from three-point land in the first meeting.
For Duke to win again, there will be an emphasis on the perimeter game. Coach K's club hit three-pointer after three-pointer in the first battle, sinking 10 more than the Tar Heels (13-3).
The Blue Devils have to get offense off of their defense, converting steals into baskets to keep the Cameron Crazies going wild. Duke had great balance in the first meeting; six players finished in double figures in the 89-78 win.
It will be special to call the game with Dan Shulman and company. Duke vs. Carolina is always special and it will be rocking and rolling. This will set the table for March Madness, the greatest time of the year. All of these kids play their hearts out.
The heart and passion is so evident. Kids play with such pride, such pleasure because of the uniform they put on night in and night out. I can't wait for it to happen, baby!
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.