Duke won its first matchup against North Carolina since Mike Krzyzewski retired on Saturday night, and even though both teams were unranked, the game still had the juice of a legendary rivalry.
While the 63-57 win gave Duke a big ACC win, it may have been more important for the Blue Devils to get back at UNC for how last season ended. The Tar Heels won Krzyzewski’s final home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, then triumphed again when the two met in the Final Four for the first time ever. In that national semifinal matchup, UNC beat Duke in what would be Krzyzewski’s final game as Duke’s head coach.
Those losses were also crushing to former Duke forward Paolo Banchero, who entered the NBA draft after his lone season with the Blue Devils. Banchero attended Saturday night’s game and said afterward that the win helped him get over last season’s disappointment.
Duke improved to 17-6 overall and 8-4 in the ACC with the win. UNC dropped to 15-8 overall and 7-5 in conference.
“One hundred percent it gives me closure,” Banchero said, via David Thompson of The Fayetteville Observer. “Just to see that team go down to us at home … it was good to see them get a dub in Cameron.”
Banchero was specifically happy for Duke guard Jeremy Roach, who scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds after scoring just eight points in the Blue Devils’ Final Four loss last season. Banchero added that watching the game gave him more stress than he felt actually playing against the Tar Heels last year.
“Watching the game is way more stressful than playing in the game,” Banchero said. “But it was huge. I wanted to see Jeremy, after what happened last year, close them out.”
Banchero is having a successful season with the Magic after going No. 1 overall, averaging over 20 points and six rebounds a game. Now, it seems as if he finally can move on from his final college game.