Today is the second anniversary of the day Duke didn’t show

Eight days, eight miles, eight points

To most, February 12th is just another day. But if you’re from North Carolina – and especially if you’re a Tar Heel – today holds a much bigger meaning.

Folks, today is the two year anniversary of the day Duke didn’t show. They couldn’t make it eight miles down the road for the UNC-Duke game all because of a little snow.

As entry to the Duke game is largely based on seniority, a lot of underclassmen – myself included – didn’t have tickets. But as Carolina kids were beginning to monitor the weather forecast (we were expecting a few inches of snow), the pleas for tickets soon began.

The “winter storm” – which would be considered a “light flurry” anywhere but North Carolina – would start in the early morning and would continue throughout game day. People started hashtags like #getmetothedookgame and tweeted at season ticket-holders and out-of-towners who couldn’t make it.

My friends and I agreed to wait in the stand-by ticket line when we got out of class the next day. When we woke up the next morning – game day – the ground was blanketed in (a little) snow.

My first class that day wasn’t until 12.30pm, but my phone pinged as the basketball gods stepped in. Alert Carolina: classes were cancelled for the rest of the day.


Shrieking roommates congregated in the living room to make a game plan. None of us had tickets, but we would all wait in the stand-by line for the 9pm game. We were going to be in that Dean Dome, dammit.

The A bus wasn’t running from our off-campus apartment on Bolinwood Drive, so we would have to walk the 2.1 miles to the Dean Dome. It was freezing and we were being pelted with ice and none of us were equipped for this journey because we were North Carolina born and raised and “what is snow?”


When we finally reached Skipper Bowles Drive and descended the hill to the Dome, we were numb – partially because of the weather, but mostly because it was becoming so real. In just a few hours, we could possibly witness UNC obliterate Duke.

We walked to the student doors in the back of the arena and were immediately turned away. The stand-by line wouldn’t start until 7pm and we weren’t allowed to form a line until then. Only ticket-holders would be allowed to line up inside the dome – 500 were already packed inside Koury Natatorium.

But we had no intention of giving up that quickly – we tailgated a girl into Ram Village 5 and snuck into a third floor lounge, where we sat eating stale Lorna Doone cookies from the vending machine and feverishly checking Twitter. Groups of students were chanting “go to hell Duke” below us, and every now and then we stepped outside to join in.


Social media was exploding – out of town ticket holders couldn’t make it to the game because of the snow, so their seats would be turned over the students. For the first time in history, we were going to fill the Dean Dome, not just our limited student section.

At 4pm, Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham announced: “ACC policy states that we should play the game if the teams, officials and games operations staff can safely get to the arena. As of right now, we believe that those critical personnel will be able to get here.”

As the hours ticked by, we stayed updated on the Blue Devils’ whereabouts. They had plenty of time to get here – the snow wasn’t sticking to the roads quite yet – but news soon spread Duke wouldn’t be leaving until 6pm. For a 9pm tipoff.

Duke hadn’t left yet? Why hadn’t they left hours ago? They’re only eight miles down the road. What if Duke didn’t show?

Around 5.30pm, John Robinson, my favorite J-School professor, tweeted: “Awaiting the a twitter explosion when Duke announces it’s afraid to come to UNC to play ball.”

Minutes later, we heard shouting outside. We checked Twitter.

Duke wasn’t going to show. They couldn’t make it eight miles down the road.

In an instant, Bubba Cunningham broke our hearts: “Duke’s bus is not able to get to their campus to pick up the team in time to be able to make the trip to Chapel Hill so we can’t play this evening.”

Our phones beeped with an Alert Carolina message. Duke game postponed.

Frustrated and angry at the classic, cowardly Duke move, we began the trek back home up the Skipper Bowles hill – we laughed at the irony we were walking uphill both ways in the snow.


On our walk, we passed a group asking people to meet them in front of Spencer – they were planning to walk to Duke to show them how easy it was. A video on Facebook showed a guy driving to Duke’s campus and back, all before 9pm when they were supposed to be here. I heard a girl offering to steal a P2P to go and pick the team up herself.

We finally made it back to our apartment, Go Heels stickers plastered to our faces. We felt defeated and we hadn’t even played a game.


But as it turned out, eight had been our lucky number all along. Eight days later, we beat Duke in the Dean Dome 74-66 – by eight points – before rushing the court and then Franklin Street.

Eight days. Eight miles. Eight points. GTHD.