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Chapel Hill feels pre-game buzz

Posted April 3, 2009

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— A pre-game buzz was filled Franklin Street on Friday in anticipation of the University North Carolina’s matchup with Villanova in Detroit on Saturday.

“People are just really excited. The street has been full of people all day. It’s really exciting,” UNC Fan Holly Deadmond said.

Fan Janie Tarman remembers the last time the Tar Heels won the national championship in 2005.

“Last time, the tension in this town – you could cut it with a knife,” Tarman said.

A banner hangs in the window of a store on Franklin Street in Ch Chapel Hill gets Final Four fever

In 2005, an estimated 45,000 fans poured onto Franklin Street to celebrate. Lt. Kevin Gunter said he saw several men carrying a couch down the thoroughfare during the celebration.

If a celebration breaks out this year, Chapel Hill police said they will be ready. More than 200 officers from eight additional agencies are scheduled to patrol Franklin Street Saturday night and Monday night, if necessary.

“We anticipate a lot of congestion in the downtown and surrounding areas,” Gunter said.

People should avoid bringing flammable items including alcohol and paint, Gunter said. He also warns against people bringing glass and, of course, weapons.

Gunter says the plan isn't to close the street but if too many fans crowd Franklin Street, it'll turn into a block party.

For fans who couldn’t make the trip to Detroit to watch the games in person, UNC is opening the Dean Smith Center on Saturday for a viewing party. The center will open to university staff, faculty and students at 5 p.m. and for everyone else at 5:30 p.m.

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