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How Duke, UNC nearly met with title on the line

Thirty-one years after the loss that ended his college career, former North Carolina forward Pete Chilcutt still isn’t over it.

The most painful part isn’t even that a Tar Heels team stacked with future first-round picks went cold against an opponent with lesser talent. The dream title-game scenario they flushed away is what haunts Chilcutt most.

Had heavily favored North Carolina managed to defeat Kansas in the 1991 national semifinals, the Tar Heels’ first-ever NCAA tournament matchup with hated rival Duke would have come two nights later in the national title game. North Carolina instead went home, allowing a Blue Devils team the Tar Heels beat by 22 in the ACC tournament to overpower Kansas and capture Mike Krzyzewski’s first national championship.

“I have thought about that so many times,” Chilcutt told Yahoo Sports. “Duke won another one the next year and really took off. That’s where it started for them. I think it would’ve been one of the epic finals of all time if we’d been able to get in there and perhaps change history. Who knows what would’ve happened to Duke down the road if we’d have been able to knock them off and not let them get that first title?”

Duke and North Carolina have combined to make 55 NCAA tournament appearances and reach 19 Final Fours since 1991, yet it has taken until now for them to finally cross paths on college basketball’s biggest stage. On Saturday night, it will be Blue Devils vs. Tar Heels from New Orleans in the highest-stakes game in this iconic rivalry’s history.

For North Carolina, it’s a chance to double down on the bragging rights attained when the Tar Heels spoiled Duke’s tribute to Mike Krzyzewski in his final home game. For Duke, it’s an opportunity to avenge that humiliating loss and move one step closer to sending Krzyzewski into retirement with a sixth national championship.

While North Carolina and Duke have frequently produced highly ranked teams in the same year, they haven’t often come…

Source link : https://sports.yahoo.com/the-one-that-got-away-how-north-carolina-blew-its-shot-at-duke-in-the-1991-title-game-205250172.html?src=rss

Author : Yahoo Sports

Publish date : 2022-03-30 20:53:13

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