CHAPEL HILL – Chapel Hill’s and Durham’s mayors understand just how much Saturday’s game means not only to its fans but for the municipalities as well.

“(It will bring) excitement as always,” Durham’s Bill Bell says. “It takes on sort of an atmosphere of its own. I’m looking forward to it. Looking forward to Duke winning, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

“It’s been such a great experience watching the team grow over the course of the season,” Chapel Hill’s Mark Kleinschmidt says. “When we played at Cameron, it was unfortunate that we weren’t able to come back with a victory, but I remember thinking how proud I was, and I know many people in town were, about the kind of fight that they showed.”

Many years Carolina and Duke have both been ranked while playing in the regular season finale; it’s also been for the regular season title a number of times.

However, this year doesn’t fall into either of those categories. Duke is ranked No. 3 in the AP Top 25 and No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches Poll; Carolina is just outside the top 25 with the hopes of making it back in before the ACC tournament for the first time since the December 17 poll.

And Mayor Kleinschmidt says that, along with a six-game winning streak, plays a major role in the expectations of Carolina fans.

“I think expectations are now even higher having watched them grow over the course of the season; having seen them give Duke a real run for their money at Cameron,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says. “Having it here in the Dean Dome on Senior Day, it’s going to be an amazing day, and I expect that we’re going to pull out the ‘W’ here.”

Not just fans will be making wagers on Saturday night’s game. Mayor Bell says he has some making up to do for last year.

“We did do a bet the last time,” Mayor Bell says. “Unfortunately I ended up wearing Carolina Blue. It was good for my daughter because she went to Carolina; it wasn’t good for me.”

And Mayor Kleinschmidt says he’s quite proud of the record recent Chapel Hill Mayors hold.

“I have never had to wear Duke gear after a Carolina-Duke game,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says. “But, unfortunately poor Mr. Bell has, once with Mr. Foy and once with me last year.”

The mayors got together Friday afternoon and agreed on the same bet as last year. If Carolina wins, Mayor Bell will have to don the light blue; and if Duke wins, Mayor Kleinschmidt the dark blue.

Additionally, Mayor Kleinschmidt told WCHL that he invites any and all Carolina fans to his Facebook page to suggest just which item he should purchase for Mayor Bell should the Ram take the ‘W’.

Mark Kleinschmidt ‏@MayorMarkK
“I’ll take that bet!” Just got off the phone with Mayor Bell of Durham. Seems he’s wanting to add to his…

As a UNC alumnus and now a proud resident of the town of 25 years, Mayor Kleinschmidt is well-read and an avid follower of the Tar Heels. He says it’s been great to watch Roy Williams in his tenth season at the helm form this team into something that some onlookers thought was not possible.

“I feel for him a little bit about some of the criticism that he’s taken over the course of the year in fine-tuning this lineup,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says. “But, clearly he has shown folks that he knows what he is doing.”

And he says with all that Coach Williams and his staff has done this year, he believe the Head Tar Heel deserves to be crowned ACC Coach of the Year.

“Taking a team that is unlike any that has played for Carolina in decades and turning them into a contender here with an opportunity to secure a tied spot for second place in the ACC with a win (Saturday), I think it speaks to what an extraordinary coach Coach Williams is,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says.

A win would certainly help that cause.

North Carolina controls the series 132-103, but Duke has won six of the last eight meetings.

Coach Williams hopes to even his record against the Blue Devils in the Dean Smith Center as he is 4-5 on his home court.

Tipoff between North Carolina and Duke is 9:00 p.m. Saturday. WCHL’s pregame coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. with Countdown to Tipoff hosted by Ron Stutts.