How the Triangle really earned its nickname.

Posted on 12/03/10 No Comments

If you haven’t noticed yet, you soon will: the Triangle likes its sports. So if you’re planning on relocating to our area, you might want to decide on an affiliation. And quick.

Some believe our area achieved its moniker because of the shape created (roughly) when one sketches a line on a map connecting Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Well, our bet is that we really acquired the name through more salacious means. You know, as in a “love Triangle.” And if you don’t believe us, just lock a fan of each city’s home university in a room with cushioned bats and watch what happens. Talk about a soap opera.

NC State, Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill are inarguably three of the nation’s best universities, each widely recognized for disparate specializations. Duke is the only private school among the three, as NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill are members of perhaps the country’s best state university system.

Okay, accolades aside, this post was really about making a formal announcement that basketball season has arrived in the Triangle. And so far, things look, well, just okay.

The Wolfpack and Tar Heels are marching on the court with a lot of Tobacco Road tradition and highly-touted recruiting classes. State, having not fared too well the last few years under former Pack point guard and coach Sidney Lowe, is hoping for a full-fledged program rebound. Their game against Wisconsin, however, didn’t exactly foretell a bright future. But it’s early. The team does have talent and experience, two of the most vital factors to competing in the ACC. They have already lost to Georgetown (no crime there), then Wisco (the Badgers may get prosecuted for something) and tomorrow face Syracuse in the Dome. Let’s hope the recent Upstate New York arctic blast isn’t a harbinger of what lies in waiting for the canines from Carolina.

The Heels, with a couple of recent national championships and as always, a stellar recruiting class of their own, have dropped a couple of games themselves so far. While yes, “the early” excuse should apply to them as well, it’s still a surprise whenever the Carolina Blue-clad team walks off the court with the lower number on the scoreboard. Most likely, there are a few chemistry issues. Not issues like “the team members don’t like each other,” but more like “we need some time to gel as team” issues. The odds are good that the Heels will make the NCAA Tourney and subsequently live up to their long-standing tradition.

And there’s Duke. Kind of an odd stepchild when juxtaposed with the family of southern universities that make up North Carolina. It gets many of its students from other parts of the country, exists outside the UNC system and well, seems to have fewer fans in the area.

But man are they good at basketball.

The legends are true, Cameron Indoor is one heckuva a great place to watch hoops. It’s loud, sweaty, cramped and outdated. And it accounts on its own for a least two home wins a year. This year though, the team doesn’t exactly need the help. They’re that good. But again, it’s early.

Every year it seems there exists that “unbeatable” college basketball team. The 1968 UCLA Bruins. The 1990 UNLV Running Rebels. Yet, somehow, an opponent manages to squeak out a victory. And in today’s hoops game, sometimes all it takes is one under-rated, unrecruited stud to shine for one night (Stephen Curry, anyone?) to knock the Devil off its pulpit.

So who knows? Maybe the Blue Devils will stumble in the tourney and bow out early. Or they could win it all again.

In the end though, you don’t have to go far at all in the Triangle to find the college basketball games that sports fans from around the country consider appointment television. Every stadium is only minutes from Cary, Apex or Morrisville. Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium is right on campus, State plays at the RBC Center in west Raleigh and the Heels play in the Dean E. Smith Center, also on campus.

Just remember to bring your cushioned bat. And a thick skin.

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