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Duke students quizzed each other on Duke basketball to determine who got UNC tickets

The students who will fill Cameron Indoor on Thursday had to work for it.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Duke Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

How seriously do Duke basketball fans take themselves? This seriously, as we’ve learned from an article this week in The Wall Street Journal:

Hundreds of Duke students here spent hours this semester compiling study guides and cramming for the most stressful test on campus. It was graded on such a vicious curve that only about half of them passed. And there were so many people taking this midterm that Cameron Indoor Stadium was the only room on campus that could fit them.

But that was oddly appropriate: The exam was about Duke basketball.

Duke plays bitter rival North Carolina at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday at famed Cameron Indoor Stadium (ESPN). Seating is always scarce there, with a capacity of about 9,000. And to determine which Duke students get the chance to comprise the Cameron Crazies for the big game, organizers had the students take a Duke basketball history quiz.

That’s not even enough to get into the game. Tickets for UNC-Duke are doled out on a first-come, first-serve basis, and students have to camp in line for weeks in a makeshift tent village called Krzyzewskiville, named for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. The right to wait in that line was only awarded to students who did well enough on the quiz.

Students made Google Docs to study, The Journal’s Ben Cohen reported, and treated the exam much as they might treat any other college exam.

In the days before trivia night, students crammed as they would for any other exam. It was common to see kids walking through campus re-reading their Duke basketball dossiers and furiously highlighting their notes. Some tents even tested themselves using a flashcards app on their phones.

Once they were inside, the line monitors circled the room like proctors, searching for any signs of cheating. After exactly one hour, the students put their pencils down and began refreshing their emails, waiting for the results. They soon found out there was no grade inflation. The cutoff was 77%, King said, and the highest score was 93%.

It’s not a horrible idea, I guess, as a way to deal with a scarcity. But forcing kids to know gobs of Duke history to get into the campus’ event of the year is pretty exclusive of new fans, like freshmen. Meritocracies of this sort have their pluses and minuses.