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UNC Duke showdown

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Duke graduate Amanda Blumenherst fired a 66 Thursday at the ANZ Australian Ladies Masters to take a one-shot lead over the defending champion Katherine Hull.

It’s only the first round, but I hope it’s not foreshadowing a certain Duke v. defending champion rivalry that is scheduled for Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. That’s when the unranked North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team faces the fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils.

As a University of North Carolina graduate who bleeds Carolina Blue, you could say this season has been a bit of a disappointment. Our preseason Sports Illustrated ranking was seven but now our chances of making the NCAA tournament to defend our title are slim to none. We’ve fallen from national champions to the bottom of the ACC.

But all bets are off this weekend as the Heels head to Cameron Indoor where the rivalry is so robust and deeply rooted that my mother, also a UNC grad, tells me that when she was a child the only time she could use a curse word was when she would sing the Carolina Fight Song which ends, “go to hell Duke!” It certainly feels like a UNC victory is a long-shot, but Duke lost Wednesday to Maryland, Carolina has won its last two games, and despite the Cameron Crazies Duke hasn’t beaten the Tar Heels at home since 2005. Adding to the Blue Devil pressure, the ACC title is on the line.

When the chimes from the Chapel Hill Bell Tower signal the 9 p.m. tip Saturday 8 miles up tobacco road in Durham, it will be high noon Sunday on the Gold Coast of Australia. The final round of the ANZ Ladies Masters will be in full swing and I bet Blumenherst will have her Blue Devils somewhere in the back of her mind. I’ll have the defending champions on mine.