At home in Chapel Hill, fans feel championship vibe
Posted April 2
Chapel Hill, N.C. — While more than 70,000 college basketball fans packed Houston's NRG Stadium Saturday night for two national semifinal games, thousands across the Triangle rooted for the Tar Heels in front of their televisions.
About 4,000 lucky fans got to see the game on the biggest of screens – the video boards inside the Dean E. Smith Center on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.
As the clock ticked down to zero, with Carolina securing an 83-66 win over Syracuse, they made themselves heard.
The doors at the Smith Center opened to the campus community at 5 p.m., and 30 minutes later members of the general public joined the pep rally and watch party.
Many said that, outside of Houston, there was no better place to watch the Tar Heels win. The band played and cheerleaders hyped up the crowd as the audience watched on video boards around the arena.
"First of all, being in the Dean Dome, you look to your left and see championship banners," said Dylan Brooks. "It's just an awesome experience."
"It was really important for us to all get here early and hang out and get a good spot and get a T-shirt," said Hannah Collier. For those who failed to arrive already clad in Carolina blue, the university handed out 10,000 free T-shirts as fans entered.
"Jordan brand – you can't beat that," Brooks said of his new shirt.
Tar Heel fans also gathered in bars and restaurants along Chapel Hill's Franklin Street and around home televisions to watch the game, which tipped off just before 9 p.m.
UNC will meet the Villanova Wildcats in the NCAA men's basketball national championship game on Monday night.