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Destination: Carolina Basketball Museum

Admission is free to the museum, which is both shrine to Carolina basketball and a unique look at college basketball history.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

I graduated from the University of Virginia. So did my husband.

But, despite our dressing our older daughter in orange and blue and teaching her "The Good Old Song" as a toddler, she declared her allegiance to Carolina at age 3. (I'm going to blame the Carolina-loving kids in her day care where she often was one of the few kids not wearing Carolina blue on "show your ACC spirit day.")

Nearly five years later, she remains a die hard Carolina fan with a closet full of Carolina blue to prove it. And, like most any parent, I support her passions.

So we've been to the Carolina Basketball Museum more than once. And, despite being a Virginia fan, I happily oblige because this place is both a shrine to Carolina basketball, but also a unique look at college basketball history.

The museum opened in 2008 after Tar Heel coaching legend Dean Smith donated his memorabilia and awards to UNC-Chapel Hill. There had been a memorabilia room at the Smith Center, but Carolina leaders wanted more room to tell the Carolina basketball story, Steve Kirschner, Carolina's director of athletic communications, tells me.

A group traveled to other sports museums across the country to get ideas and worked with a firm to design the space. Visitors start at a short video, then move into a basketball court-themed room where glass cases showcase items from players and coaches such as Phil Ford, Michael Jordan, Smith, Roy Williams and Tyler Hansbrough.

You'll find lots of video here and a touch screen where visitors can scroll through decades of teams and players - a highlight for both of my kids.

Visitors finish up in a couple of rooms dedicated to the trophies from Carolina's victories over the years, including ACC championships, Final Fours and national championships. Many of the trophies had been scattered across the campus in offices, on top of filing cabinets or tucked away elsewhere before the museum opened.

My older daughter, who now plays basketball, could have stayed for hours. She poured over the display cases and wanted to research every single team on the touch screen.

Other highlights for my kids: The stickers on the floor near a basketball net showing the distance from which players scored a basket, Hansbrough's giant shoes and former coach Bill Guthridge's collection of championship rings.

During our visit, Kirschner mentioned that there is a smaller space dedicated to the women's basketball team at Carmichael Arena. So we headed over there to check out the room, which also includes lots of videos, a touch screen with information about the teams over the decades and other information.

The Carolina Basketball Museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday. Hours can vary depending on games scheduled at the Smith Center that day, so be sure to check ahead. Admission is free.

Parking for museum guests is located across the street in the metered spaces of the Williamson Lot during regular business hours. Be sure to bring plenty of quarters to feed the meter.

Find the museum on the first floor of the Ernie Williamson Athletics Center, 450 Skipper Bowles Dr. Watch my video interview with Kirschner and check the museum's website for more information.
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