Life Outside of Class: The Duke-UNC Basketball Rivalry

February 21, 2018
Yolande and Ashley
Yolande (left) and classmate Ashley Wittmer, at the game in the fall when Coach K had his 1,000th win as the Duke men's basketball coach.

By Yolande Pokam, 1st-year MSc-GH student

At Duke, sports are a serious business. 

In the summer, people set time aside to cheer Durham’s own baseball team—the Durham Bulls—but once the fall semester starts, it’s game on for Duke sports. Football is in the air, and the basketball season quickly follows. But besides being a hot topic, sports successfully unite Duke students (from undergraduates to graduate students), and for us MSc-GH students, they provide an alternative universe outside of Trent Hall, where we huddle for many of our classes. 

Since it’s currently the spring semester and basketball season is in full swing, I’d like to share my experience with the basketball culture and the most important rivalry in North Carolina: the legendary ongoing basketball battle between the Duke Blue Devils and the UNC Tar Heels. 

Sports are an integral part of most students’ life at Duke, including us MSc-GH students—and basketball is clearly the pinnacle of sports here on campus. 

Just outside Cameron Indoor Stadium, “Krzyzewskiville” or “K-ville” for short, named after Duke’s basketball coach of nearly 40 years, is a hub of basketball-related activity throughout the spring. That’s where undergraduates patiently wait for basketball tickets and where students camp out for weeks on end to secure tickets to the most anticipated game of the year—the home Duke-UNC game. Personally, I wouldn’t sacrifice my bed to see a sports game, but I definitely understand those students’ motivation. 

I recently watched my first Duke-UNC basketball game with some of my MSc-GH friends, and this shared experience definitely made Duke feel like home. 

The first half of the game was fun and exciting: cheers and claps after dunks, and a rush of a dopamine after successful three-pointers! What can I say … the game was going well for us. However, it all went downhill during the second half of the game. Despite our team’s talent and drive, UNC—ranked well below Duke—defied the odds to take the game. 

Although a sad loss, I was told the battle is not over; there is more to come on March 3 at Cameron Indoor Stadium! I haven’t secured a ticket to watch it live, but I’m ready to cheer my school’s team once again. This time, I’m confident victory will be ours.

If you’re a first-year MSc-GH student like me, watching this game will probably be a great way to celebrate submitting our final thesis proposals and an opportunity to take a break from our never-ending assignments and readings. 

If you’re a second-year student, it might either be a way to celebrate a successful thesis defense or take a break from the final thesis stretch. (I’m cheering for you—you’re almost done!). 

And if you’re a prospective student, I hope you’ll get to experience the electric atmosphere that is Duke. Who knows? By the time you graduate, you may be as passionate about sports as you are about global health!