Duke and UNC: Basketball rivals, but global teammates off the court

Duke Blue Devil, University of North Carolina Ram

Duke University visits Chapel Hill tonight to play the University of North Carolina in a men’s college basketball matchup that will keep at least two-thirds of Research Triangle basketball fans riveted tonight.

Even basketball observers outside of the Triangle call it the biggest rivalry in sports, or at least in college basketball. But the longtime rivals shared an unusual peace offering this week. The communications offices of both universities posted a chart listing ways that they are partners and collaborators — off the court.

The chart lists seven issues where the two universities are joining forces to find solutions including energy, sustainable food and international relations. The only health or life sciences-related effort that makes the list is the Duke-UNC Brain Imaging and Analysis Center. The facility was created in 1998 to improve research techniques in neuroimaging and to apply these techniques in neuroscience studies. BIAC research has delved into conditions such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.


Many people in the Triangle are sporting blue colors today and in some of the pharma and technology companies in Research Triangle Park, the divisions are starkly clear. I witnessed one UNC fan greeted with boos and hisses when he entered his Durham office wearing UNC blue. But the university officials talk up the collaborations like teammates rather than rivals.

“Our colleagues down the road still wear the wrong shade of blue, but we’re lucky to have each other as neighbors,” Duke’s post said.

And UNC said: “This Tar Heel/Blue Devil ‘dream team’ has great offense and defense, a strong roster, and it plays well both at home and on the road.”

But there’s one area where Duke will have to concede the edge to the Tar Heels. Duke published the chart. But they didn’t create it. That credit goes to UNC. Here’s the chart.

Photo from the University of North Carolina

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