The next play: What’s on deck this week in the Triangle?

·3 min read

The most wonderful time of the year in the Triangle -- college basketball season -- is right around the corner. Before Duke, UNC and N.C. State step on the court, there’s still plenty of football to be played.

College basketball is back!

The wait is almost over! The Triangle has long been considered the epicenter of college basketball and the local ACC schools get back to practice next week.

Well, the first day of “practice” isn’t as big of a deal as it once was, considering teams have opportunities to get on the court all year long for workouts. But the official start means it’s real now and we’ll blink and it’ll be March Madness.

Duke, UNC and N.C. State hope to rebound from disappointing seasons. The Blue Devils saw their season cut short due to COVID, bowing out of the ACC tournament early in what would be the last contest of 2021 for the Blue Devils.

The Tar Heels made it to the NCAA Tournament, but bowed out early, falling to Wisconsin in the second round. The Wolfpack did win a postseason game, the first round of the NIT, but were sent home by Colorado State in round two.

The 2021-2022 season will be the last for Blue Devils’ coach Mike Krzyzewski and the first without Roy Williams in Chapel Hill. Williams retired in April and was replaced by former assistant Hubert Davis.

Victory Bell on the line

Speaking of the Blue Devils and Tar Heels, the two rivals meet on the gridiron in Chapel Hill on Oct. 2. Carolina has a two-game winning streak over Duke in the battle for the Victory Bell.

Last season’s battle was one of the most lopsided in recent history, with the Tar Heels scoring 42 points in the first half on their way to a 56-24 win. Carolina had 573 yards of total offense in that game.

The 2019 game in Chapel Hill was a bit more dramatic, with former UNC linebacker Chazz Suratt picking off a pass at the goal line to secure a 20-17 win. If the Tar Heels win it will be their first three-game winning streak over Duke since 2004-2011, when they won eight in a row. Carolina holds a 44-23-1 advantage since the Victory Bell was introduced into the rivalry.

HBCUs hit the road

All three local Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs) will hit the road next weekend.

North Carolina Central will be the only one of the three yet to play a conference game. The Eagles will travel to Itta Bena, MS for a showdown with Mississippi Valley State. It will be the first meeting between the two schools.

Shaw and SAU will both have much, much shorter trips. The Bears will battle Virginia Union at 1 p.m. Just down I95, the Falcons will take on Virginia State at 6 p.m. in Petersburg. The Falcons have dropped three straight to the Trojans. VSU has outscored SAU 58-7 in the last two contest.

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