The Heated Men's Basketball Rivalry of Michigan-Duke
The Heated Basketball Rivalry of Michigan-Duke

By Steve Grialou, U-M Athletic Media Relations Student Assistant

A rivalry consists of a deep hatred, yet a bizarre respect for worthy adversary. Rivalries take time to grow and do not occur overnight or over the course of one battle.

Cazzie Russell pulls down a rebound
In sports, a rivalry requires frequent meetings with high rewards at stake and, because of the stakes, rivalries usually occur with a conference, as schools geographically close to each other battle for fan support, regional supremacy and national exposure. Just look at Michigan-Michigan State or Michigan-Indiana in basketball. The games bring fans out of the woodwork, increase emotions and effect recruiting success.

However, when talking to college basketball fans, another rivalry comes to mind -- Michigan vs. Duke. Two universities from separate regions of the country, playing in different conferences: Michigan from the mighty Big Ten Conference, Duke from the hoops' hotbed Atlantic Coast Conference. Two programs with long histories and traditions of excellence, and a pair of student bodies that takes pride in intellect as well as athletic prowess. Add to the mix a combined three NCAA titles and seven Final Four appearances since the 1988-89 season, and the richness of the rivalry is exposed.

Juwan Howard puts one up over Antonio Lang
When the college basketball titans of Michigan and Duke face each other, fans across the nation tune in as bragging rights and the hearts of the nation's elite recruits are at stake.

On Dec. 21, 1963, the Wolverines welcomed the Blue Devils into Yost Field House for the first meeting between the two programs. Michigan left its home arena with an 83-67 victory in what would turn into the precursor for a series of nine games in eight years. The Blue Devils would avenge the early season loss later in the 1964 NCAA Tournament Final Four in Kansas City, Mo., when Duke recorded a 91-80 victory en route to the national championship.

The schools met in each of the next seven seasons with Duke winning six of the nine match-ups. After the Dec. 7, 1970 game, the schools did not meet for 19 years.

Wolverine Chris Webber battles Christian Laettner
When Duke and Michigan did play again -- Dec. 9, 1989 -- the stakes were higher than your typical non-conference December game. Michigan was the defending national champion and wanted to prove it was still No. 1. Duke came into the season off a Final Four appearance and wanted to beat the defending champs to lay claim to the nation's top spot. Forty minutes proved an inadequate amount of time to determine the outcome of the back-and-forth battle as the teams played into overtime before the Wolverines squeaked out a 113-108 victory.

Duke would exact revenge, taking the next six meetings between the two schools, each time challenged closely by Michigan. The Dec. 14, 1991 meeting featured the reverse situation of the 1989 game. The Blue Devils were the defending national champions and the top team in the nation. The Wolverines were the young upstarts in a game that was the national television debut of the highly-touted "Fab Five" recruiting class. It was billed as the high-flying, black socks, bald headed and baggy shorts of Michigan vs. the smart, confident, defending champion "scholar-ballers" of Duke.

Michigan's Josh Asselin challenges Elton Brand's shot
In a game of runs, the young Wolverines were down by as many as 17 points in the first half. Michigan rallied in the second half and sent the game into overtime. Duke regrouped in the extra period and held off Michigan, 85-77. The teams squared-off again in the glare of the national spotlight, playing for the 1992 NCAA title in Minneapolis. Unlike the 1964 when Duke avenged its regular season loss with a Final Four victory, Michigan was unable to hold off a second half charge by the Blue Devils and Duke walked off the court as NCAA champions with a 71-51 victory.

Michigan has reversed the Duke curse of late, taking three of the last four games, including a pair of wins in Cameron Indoor Stadium. In 1996, a Robert Traylor dunk with three seconds remaining gave U-M a 62-61 road win. A year later, the Blue Devils came to Ann Arbor heavily favored and looking to avenge their 1996 defeat. The Wolverines were not phased by the Duke hype and stunned the college basketball scene with an 81-73 win, leading to an outpouring of emotion from the usually reserved Wolverine faithful as the fans stormed the court following the game.

Each time Michigan and Duke meet on the basketball court, people all over the nation want to watch, the players get a little more excited, and the coaching staffs a little more tense. All the elements to make a heated rivalry, and this is one of the best college basketball has to offer.

Michigan vs. Duke
(Duke leads the series, 13-7)

Date Opponent    Site    W/L Score Margin
Dec. 21, 1963    Duke H W 83-67 16
Mar. 20, 1964 Duke 1 L 80-91 -11
Dec. 5, 1964 Duke A W 86-79 7
Dec. 21, 1965 Duke 2 L 93-100 -7
Dec. 3, 1966 Duke A L 75-96 -21
Dec. 6, 1967 Duke H L 72-93 -21
Dec. 9, 1968 Duke A W 90-80 10
Dec. 10, 1969 Duke H L 68-73 -5
Dec. 7, 1970 Duke A L 74-95 -21
Dec. 9, 1989 Duke H W-OT    113-108    5
Dec. 8, 1990 Duke A L 68-75 -7
Dec. 14, 1991 Duke H L-OT 77-85 -8
Apr. 6, 1992 Duke 3 L 51-71 -20
Dec. 5, 1992 Duke A L 68-79 -11
Dec. 11, 1993 Duke H L 63-73 -10
Dec. 10, 1994 Duke A L 59-69 -10
Dec. 9, 1995 Duke H W 88-84 4
Dec. 8, 1996 Duke A W 62-61 1
Dec. 13, 1997 Duke H W 81-73 8
Dec. 12, 1998 Duke A L 64-108 -44

1 - NCAA Final Four, Kansas City, Mo.
2 - Cobo Arena, Detroit, Mich.
3 - NCAA Championship, Minneapolis, Minn.

Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423

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