18 Mar College Basketball Mecca
By Pete Eisenmann
Living in the Triangle, and especially in Durham, as a basketball fan is a dream come true. I liken it to my prior residence in Aiken, SC that was 25 miles from Augusta National Golf Club. Augusta National is on most sport’s fans “bucket list” of venues, no matter if you play golf or not – its historic relationship to the sport of golf transcends the venue. Being on that golf course in April is magical.
Basketball is like that here in Durham. The sport didn’t start here but we have become an epicenter for one of the most storied rivalries in the game – UNC v Duke. Over the past 100 games they have played each other their win-loss record is separated by only one game and a few total points. Being is Cameron Indoor Stadium is magical also.
Then there is NC State, Wake Forest, Elon, and NCCU (who just won the MEAC Championship this past weekend, their 3rd title in a row).
As the nation prepares for March Madness again in 2019, it looks possible that the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) will have 3 of the four number one seeds in the tournament (Duke, UNC, and Virginia). And we see these teams play each other at least twice during the regular season – a treat for those who love the game and the competition.
No doubt, if you are basketball lover, sit back, grab your favorite snack and beverage and get ready for what may possibly be the greatest sports competition in the world – 68 teams that play from March 19 – April 8 for the NCAA National Championship – most of these young men will not play professional basketball, but everyone will be giving 100% in every game – there is no tomorrow in March Madness. And we, who live in Durham, find ourselves in the mix almost every year.
One last, but immensely significant event for basketball and civil rights, took place in Durham back in March 1944. There was a secret basketball game. It was the first interracial college basketball game in the Jim Crow South. The all-black team from NCCU (then the North Carolina College for Negros) played the all-white team from Duke’s Medical School. This game inspired the book “The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball’s Lost Triumph”. You can read a blog post here blog, and more on the story here – WUNC.