I’m going to put the WFNZ Weekly SEC Basketball Report on hold till next Thursday to give you my breakdown of the Duke/UNC game from last night. Not only does the Tobacco Road rivalry trump anything in the SouthEastern conference right now but the SEC isn’t exactly providing us with exciting games. In the last week EVERY home team, favored team, and ranked team won (except for Kentucky defeating Florida and South Carolina). Right now in the state of North Carolina nothing matter more than which shade of blue you cheer for. Watching the big game at the Dean Dome reminded me of high stakes poker.
In the game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker everyone is dealt two hole cards and there is a round of betting. Then three community cards are shown, known has the flop, followed by another round of betting. A fourth community card is shown, known as the turn or 4th street, followed by another round of betting. A final fifth card is shown, known as the river card, followed by the last round of betting. If you think your hole cards help you make the best possible five cards (using standard poker hand rankings), you’re going to stay in the betting until the end to try to win the pot. Everyone who has every played or watched poker knows the “river card” can make or break a hand. Poker players hate to be rivered.
Last nights #9 Duke vs. #5 North Carolina game was very much like a hand of poker. The Blue Devils were dealt a pair of aces for their hole cards and the Tar Heels were given a king of spades and a queen of spades. The Dukies were aggressive in their early betting (hitting 5 of 12 three pointers in the first 12 minutes of the game) meanwhile UNC stayed right with them as the flop was dealt 7 of spades, 9 of spades, and king of hearts (by hitting mid-range jumpers and dominating the boards). With 7:55 left in the first half, Duke was up 29-25.
The Tar Heels raised the stakes for the remainder of the 1st half after seeing a queen of clubs come out of the turn. The boys in baby blue now had two pair and were grabbing all of the rebounds and hitting free throws to take a 43-40 half time lead. Duke was beginning to worry that their pocket aces were not the best hand in the game anymore as Harrison Barnes’ huge 2nd half helped UNC to a twelve point lead that varied between 8-12 points for the rest of the game. Coach K hoped his pair was big enough to bring home the pot, kept his team in the game by instructing them to continue shooting 3′s.
Even when an ace was dealt as the river and final card, the Tar Heels felt comfortable with their two pairs of kings and queens. However a 10 point lead with 2:10 seconds to go was not enough to hold off an aggressive round of betting (2-three pointers & 2-jumpers) by Duke. North Carolina pushed all of their chips into the center of the table (taking a 84-82 lead with :13 left) to go “all-in”.
With the final seconds ticking off the game clock, Duke went all in as well (going for the win with a three pointer as opposed to the tie with a two point shot) and won the hand, the pot, the game, bragging rights, and their share of the lead in the ACC with three aces on the river (buried by none other than freshman sensation Austin RIVERS).
North Carolina makes plenty of money to keep playing, so I’m sure they’ll be back on March 3rd. Hopefully they won’t be on tilt from letting Duke stay around in Chapel Hill long enough to take the win and will make that game just as exciting as this game.
You can follow me and all of my poker analogies on Twitter @BruceRWilson