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Put aside our differences, root for UNC and Duke


I've only got two things to say today.

One is "Go Duke."

The other is "Go North Carolina."

We are all Cameron Crazies on Wednesday night against Clemson. (US Presswire)  
We are all Cameron Crazies on Wednesday night against Clemson. (US Presswire)  
Seriously, go Duke and North Carolina -- for today I am a Blue Devil and a Tar Heel. Or a Blue Deviled Tar Heel. Or a Blue Tar Devil Heel. Whatever. The point is that I will spend tonight actively and openly rooting for Duke to beat Clemson and for North Carolina to beat Florida State because Duke and North Carolina play Saturday at the Dean Smith Center, and I want that game to be as big as it can possibly be. In other words, I'm not rooting for Duke and North Carolina as much as I'm rooting for me. Or us, really. Because if you're a college basketball fan there's a decent chance you'll be watching college basketball this weekend, and if that's the case you should, like me, want the best possible storylines to emerge.

That means you need Duke and UNC to win Wednesday night.

Because if that happens ...

"My sense is that [this weekend's game] will be bigger than usual," said David Glenn, host of the popular David Glenn Show that airs on 11 stations throughout the state of North Carolina. "Where this rivalry is most fun, in my eyes, is when one side views a game -- like this one Saturday in Chapel Hill -- as a potential 'tipping point' in the tug-of-war, a possible game where that stripe on the rope passes the midway point over the sandpit and starts to gradually move in the opposite direction."

Now allow me to translate.

Glenn's point is that, right now, the Blue Devils have control of the rivalry. They've won three straight against North Carolina. They won a national title last season. They've been ranked No. 1 much of this season. They've got Austin Rivers set to enroll next season. So a win by Duke on Saturday could represent the middle of a terrific three-year run that might ultimately lead to three straight ACC titles and complete dominance over North Carolina.

But if North Carolina wins ...

"It's not difficult for UNC fans to envision Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith leaving Duke -- and the Devils dealing with some adjustment in 2011-12 -- while everyone stays at UNC," Glenn said. "It's possible. Then the Tar Heels would have a shot at a national championship in 2012."

Which means a North Carolina win Saturday could represent the start of an incredible two-year (and maybe longer) run that puts the Tar Heels back where they were during Tyler Hansbrough's four-year career, i.e, on top of Duke in a pretty strong and undeniable way. Not sure anybody could've reasonably suggested that seven weeks ago after Georgia Tech embarrassed the Tar Heels and dropped their record to 12-5 overall, 2-1 in the ACC. But then Larry Drew was wisely demoted as the team's starting point guard in favor of freshman Kendall Marshall, and then Drew abruptly quit. The byproduct has been North Carolina winning 10 of its past 11 with the lone loss coming by six points in last month's wildly entertaining game at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Now North Carolina is 22-6 overall, 12-2 in the ACC while Duke is 26-3 overall, 12-2 in the ACC. They're tied for first in the league. The Tar Heels play at Florida State tonight while the Blue Devils host Clemson. Wins by both will ensure they remain tied for first in the league, guarantee they enter the weekend with momentum and, to quote Glenn, make Saturday night's primetime game on CBS "bigger than usual."

So go Duke!

And go North Carolina!

For today I root for each of you.

And by you, I mean me.

And by me, I mean those of us who like the best storylines possible.

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.

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