Four Corners: How UNC, N.C. State, Duke, and Wake Forest Made North Carolina the Center of the Basketball Universe

Four Corners: How UNC, N.C. State, Duke, and Wake Forest Made North Carolina the Center of the Basketball Universe

Four Corners: How UNC, N.C. State, Duke, and Wake Forest Made North Carolina the Center of the Basketball Universe

Four Corners: How UNC, N.C. State, Duke, and Wake Forest Made North Carolina the Center of the Basketball Universe

Synopsis

For sheer intensity and excitement, few contests can match a college basketball game--unless it's one played between two in-state, longtime conference foes separated by only a few miles of the hoops highway known as "Tobacco Road." The four major Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) schools in North Carolina have won eight NCAA titles and continue to dominate the modern college game like no other area in the country. The winners of three national titles, the North Carolina Tar Heels have been a basketball powerhouse since the 1950s. Longtime coach Dean Smith and his famous "Four Corners" offense changed how the game was played and ultimately forced the introduction of the shot clock. Down the road, the N.C. State Wolfpack won two national championships, and their coach Jimmy Valvano brought an extroverted enthusiasm to coaching still recalled with fondness and admiration. A powerhouse of big-time college basketball for five decades, the Duke Blue Devils, coached by Vic Bubas and later Mike Krzyzewski, have been to twelve Final Fours and have won three NCAA titles since 1991. In Winston-Salem the Wake Forest Demon Deacons have produced eleven All-Americans, ten ACC Players of the Year, and scores of successful NBA players. Collectively the Big Four have made North Carolina the center of the basketball universe. This is their story.

Excerpt

It was just after one o’clock in the afternoon and already the temperature was soaring inside Cameron Indoor Stadium. Outside on this last day of February, it was sunny and mild. But inside the stone edifice—one of those rare structures that possesses a soul according to Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the Duke Blue Devils basketball team—the heat was on, literally and figuratively. Coach Krzyzewski saw to that. Legend has it that Coach K always turns up the thermostat when someone special comes to visit. It is a charge he has denied, but there seems to be something to it.

Despite the familiar heat, the legendary Cameron Crazies— student fans who are either clever, rude, creative, or obnoxious depending on one’s point of view—jostled for position close to the court and began their pregame ritual. Someone very special was about to walk onto the court.

“Go to Hell, Carolina, Go to Hell!

“Go to Hell, Carolina, Go to Hell!”

These words, familiar to anyone who follows basketball in the Atlantic Coast Conference, would be repeated hundreds of times before the day was done. Sweat began dripping off the Crazies’ chins almost as quickly as they settled into the rhythm of their favorite chant, yet that was hardly a concern. Even the bare-chested ones could not possibly stay cool on such an afternoon, nor would they want to. It felt a little like hell must, and that is exactly how they wanted it.

But in reality the heat was on Krzyzewski and the Duke basket-

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