The Most Memorable Dook Losses (of recent memory)

Tonight was one of those nights when Carolina Nation waited anxiously for about an hour, watching the clock tick down far too slowly and spreading the word electronically that there was a chance Dook was about to go down. In  my case, I was following the game sparingly on my phone, so as to participate in the joy but refrain from jinxing it. There are those that disagree, but I’ve long thought that hatred of Dook is one of the defining traits of the most ardent Tar Heels, and that the celebration of their losses is one of our most sacred rituals.

The rivalry needs no further feeding of the fire – both teams are and will forever be among college basketball’s top tier, the only rivalry in college basketball that boasts of that caliber of competition. Though its origin lies in past competitive match-ups of top ranked teams, it is no longer sustained by those individual games, but rather by the larger historical comparison of each program’s collective record, and the mutual dislike based both on that comparison and on the lasting cultural clash between relocated Yankees and proud Southerners. It is for this reason that Dook’s loss is always our gain, explaining why I was united in celebration through social media when Temple finally completed their upset tonight.

As such, tonight seemed like a good occasion for a list of my most memorable Dook losses. I haven’t posted in a while, and tonight’s loss was the most significant event of the past two weeks for Carolina fans. A few honorable mentions to start: the last second 2008 loss to Pitt that I watched at home with my dad, yelling and waking my mom at the last second Pitt three; returning from snow football in 2010 to learn that Georgetown had beaten Dook handily; watching Dook lose to Maryland that year to stumble into a share of the ACC title in one of the conference’s worst seasons.

10) March 8, 2007 to N.C. State: A bad loss for a self-destructing Dook team at the hands of a young Wolfpack team, in the ACC tournament, Coach K’s most friendly confines. The game wrapped up during the minutes before a Campus Crusade meeting as most of the guys excitedly huddled around phones.

9) February 26, 2011 to Virginia Tech: The Hokie seniors deserved this signature win, especially since they got mistreated by the Selection Committee again two weeks later. It also paved the way for the Heels to clinch the ACC regular season title outright with a win against Dook in the season’s final game.

8) March 22, 2008 to West Virginia: A year after losing in the first round, Dook stumbled in the second. They would fall in the third the following season, allowing perfectly for Carolina fans to mock their marginal improvements. We made similar improvements over the same span: Elite Eight to Final Four to National Champion.

7) March 26, 2009 to Villanova: We all had a feeling that Carolina was headed for a national title, and it was made even more sweet as Duke reached what seemed to be a bottoming-out. Talk of Dook’s elite status falling was already prevalent after their loss the previous season, and this marked their fifth consecutive loss before the Elite Eight (we went four out of five years over the same span). And of course, a week after Villanova blew out Dook, we blew out Villanova in the Final Four.

6) February 4, 2009 to Clemson: Enjoyable purely because of the margin of victory, this game featured a 47 point showing by Dook’s pathetic offense and a 27 point thrashing. I stopped a Student Congress meeting to announce my surprise when I received news of what was happening.

5) February 20, 2008 to Miami: This is an odd choice considering its irrelevancy in the grand scheme of the season, but it is a distinct college memory and a perfect symbol of the pervasive joy in a Dook loss. Word spread fast through Morrison Dorm that Dook was losing, and we congregated on the balcony to follow as Miami hung on and then celebrated the defeat.

4) March 15, 2007 to VCU: There could not have been a more perfect culmination to a bad Dook team, a first round loss to a regional mid-major.

3) March 23, 2006 to LSU: This is the first of three losses in the top tier category of “Title Caliber Dook Teams to Choke in the Sweet Sixteen“. I watched this one in Huntersville with my high school tennis team. Significantly, people forget how huge this loss was, largely because it ended the career of J.J. Redick without a national title and reoriented his legacy off of the path later forged by Tyler Hansbrough.

2) March 21, 2002 to Indiana: Dook was talented and poised for another run at back-to-back titles, yet Indiana had the upset in the bag – only to foul Jason Williams on a made three-pointer up four points. I never lost faith, though. Watching anxiously with my dad, I reacted to Williams’ missed free throw with victory laps around the house.

1) March 24, 2011 to Arizona: This is the unquestioned most memorable Dook loss purely for the relief it brought. 2011 was supposed to be a sure title to add to Dook’s total, one that would have brought them into a tie with UNC at five. They squandered the opportunity in a blow out to Arizona, allowing a huge exhale and an enjoyable remainder of the tournament. I watched the game with a coworker from Arizona, and I can honestly say I’ve never left watching a Dook game in a better mood

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