RALEIGH — It would be easier, but not much fun, to come up with a list of UNC vs. Duke basketball games that weren't memorable.
Long before the formation of the ACC in 1953, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels regularly WERE playing close, important games.
There have been stretches when N.C. State and Wake Forest had the state's most powerful programs. But rarely have there been years when Duke-Carolina didn't matter. Here are five games that stand out:
March 25, 1971 - New York
UNC 71, DUKE 67
The latest they have played in a season took place in the National Invitation Tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
It remains the lone Duke-Carolina game to be played after the ACC tournament.
At a time when the NIT rivaled the NCAA in popularity and prestige, almost 19,000 fans filled the Garden to see Bucky Waters' second Duke team (20-9) and Dean Smith's 10th Carolina team, which finished 26-6 and routed Georgia Tech (not an ACC member at the time) in the championship game.
Ranked 13th nationally, the Tar Heels had lost by one point in the ACC championship game to South Carolina. Since only one ACC team got a bid, the Gamecocks went to the NCAA.
The Tar Heels won behind guard George Karl's 21 points, but teammate Bill Chamberlain wound up being the voted the tournament most valuable player. Duke got 18 points from Dave O'Connell.
March 10, 1984 - Greensboro
DUKE 77, UNC 75
An ACC tournament semifinal win against the top-ranked Tar Heels was an early, pivotal achievement in Mike Krzyzewski's career.
He had defeated UNC previously but not with so much on the line. The Blue Devils, ranked 16th, successfully limited Michael Jordan's offensive impact and secured the win on late free-throw shooting by David Henderson
Matt Doherty, in one of his best games for the Tar Heels, finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but his errant inbounds pass with three seconds left ended any chance for UNC to force overtime.
Some Duke fans had sensed something important might be hand after the Heels needed two overtimes to claim a win in the final regular-season game a week earlier in Chapel Hill. Duke lost to Maryland in the ACC title game. It was Lefty Driesell's only ACC tournament title.
March 6, 2005 - Chapel Hill
UNC 75, DUKE 73
The Tar Heels were ranked second and soon would top Illinois for the NCAA title, but Duke and Krzyzewski had won three straight in the series since Roy Williams returned from Kansas after the 2002-03 season.
The Blue Devils were up by nine with less than three minutes but the game turned when UNC's Raymond Felton made a free throw and missed the second. Freshman teammate Marvin Williams rebounded, hit a follow shot, got fouled and converted the free throw with 17 seconds left to ignite the Tar Heels' closing 11-0 run.
Duke got 22 points from center Shelden Williams, but Tar Heels big man Sean May had his best game ever - 26 points, 24 rebounds.
UNC would lose in the ACC semifinals to Georgia Tech but rebound to win the national title in St. Louis.
Feb. 24, 1979 - Durham
DUKE 47, UNC 40
One of the strangest games in the series took place at Cameron Indoor Stadium with the Tar Heels ranked fourth nationally and Duke sixth. Against Duke coach Bill Foster's zone defenses, North Carolina coach Smith elected to hold the ball for the entire first half. Duke went to intermission up 7-0.
Both sides scored 40 points in the second half, leading to heavy second-guessing about Smith's strategy.
In his postgame remarks, Foster took a dig at Carolina's first-half tactics.
"I've been doing this a long time, but during the first half last night I began to think maybe I've been doing it for too long," Foster said. "I always thought Naismith invented basketball, not Dean Smith."
When the two met a week later in the ACC title game in Greensboro, Carolina won 71-63.
March 4, 2007 - Chapel Hill
UNC 86, DUKE 72
There was no doubt about the outcome when an elbow by Duke's Gerald Henderson bloodied the face of Carolina sophomore center Tyler Hansbrough during the final 15 seconds.
Hansbrough had 26 points and 17 rebounds when the injury occurred.
Although there were questions about why UNC coach Williams still had his star on the court, Henderson said the contact was an accident.
"He got our guys in the air, and I came down on him," Henderson said. "It's unfortunate that it turned out like it did, but I wasn't trying to hurt the kid or anything. It just turned worse than it was."
Officials Karl Hess, Les Jones and Jamie Luckie ejected Henderson after reviewing the play at a courtside television monitor.
Duke trailed almost the entire game and was down by nine points at halftime before rallying in the second half, cutting its deficit to 50-48. Two steals by Marcus Ginyard then sparked a decisive 18-2 Tar Heels scoring run.