The North Carolina Tar Heels handily defeated the NC State Wolfpack by a margin of 74-55 at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Thursday night.
The college basketball season in the Triangle is in full swing along Tobacco Road and it seems that many people take extraordinary steps annually in order to get the opportunity to watch some of the most storied teams in the sport compete against one another.
Fans and followers of the historic and winning programs from the University of North Carolina, Duke University and NC State University are part of the culture and traditions at these institutions that truly sets them apart from others across the country and offers an experience not to be passed up.
Near the top
The North Carolina Tar Heels (17-3, 4-1) are currently ranked seventh in the country while the Duke Blue Devils (17-3, 5-1) are one spot behind them in eighth place in the AP Top 25 poll.
The NC State Wolfpack (15-6, 4-2) is not ranked but currently sits fourth place in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) standings, one spot behind the Tar Heels after Thursday’s defeat.
The remainder of the 2011-2012 season sets up an exciting set of games to come as the Blue Devils travel to Chapel Hill to face the Tar Heels on Feb. 8 and will return the favor in hosting them on Mar. 3 at historic Cameron Indoor Stadium.
With revenge in mind, the Wolfpack now looks to its Feb. 21 date at the RBC Center to host North Carolina and looks forward to its loyal fan base to be the difference-maker in earning a win against the Tar Heels.
What sets all three teams and the Triangle-area apart from any place in the country is that collectively all three schools own 11 total National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) men’s basketball championship trophies.
The Tar Heels possess five titles (1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009), followed by the Blue Devils’ four trophies (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010) and the Wolfpack carrying their legendary two title wins (1974, 1983) in tow.
If they haven’t won the title, these three schools have competed for it a combined 10 times while ending up with second place finishes – the Blue Devils have missed it on six occasions while the Tar Heels have looked on as another team celebrated in front of them four different times.
The Blue Devils have competed 10 times (4-6) for the NCAA championship trophy while the Tar Heels have appeared in the final game nine times (5-4) and the Wolfpack has taken advantage of the two appearances (2-0) its had when playing in the big game.
Access and privilege
Local students attending these schools are fortunate to have the opportunity to watch some of the best college basketball in the country every year.
The ACC offers a schedule that features some of the best and talented college basketball programs in the country, in addition to those sitting along Tobacco Road.
However, the standard that has been set by these three institutions has enveloped them within an insulated community whose inhabitants many times forget that there are other colleges and universities competing in college basketball in the conference, let alone around the rest of the country.
The expectation at each institution is to win the national championship every year and nothing less is acceptable, and particularly so at North Carolina and Duke.
Possessing the edge in overall win percentage when competing for the NCAA championship and with a lengthy history of having many of its players progress on to play professionally in the NBA, it seems that North Carolina is the opponent of choice amongst both Duke and NC State fans who want to ensure that they have the best spot to watch from when their teams tip-off against the Tar Heels.
The rivalry with North Carolina and the drive to see the Tar Heels lose is a common bond that both Duke and NC State students share, and both go to extremes to get the chance to watch it in person – they both partake in a campout tradition that earns them the opportunity and privilege to do so.
The Campout phenomenon takes place at both Duke and NC State and for the same purpose – to get priority consideration for those prized courtside seats when their team hosts North Carolina on their home court.
Even though both schools operate campout events led by their respective student groups, they go about it in different ways.
Duke’s Tenting tradition
Duke’s tradition of ‘tenting’ takes place in late January and consists of a seven-week period where students adjust their daily living location and routine to include inhabiting a tent in Krzyzewskyville, aka K-Ville, a large and long grassy area named after their coach, Mike Krzyzewski, that is located behind the famed Cameron Indoor Stadium where the Blue Devils play.
NC State’s Campout tradition
Similarly at NC State, Campout takes place in mid-late January outside the historic Reynolds Coliseum but only goes on for a night (12+ hours) where upwards of 1500+ students show up with tents, sleeping bags and lots of energy to partake in the night’s activities taking place outside and inside the famed building.
The nature of each school’s student body size and daily campus operation as well as their commitment to their teams sets them apart in living through this experience.
The process of camping out requires much commitment and dedication at both schools as the rules are fairly complex and have been developed over the years at both Duke and NC State to accommodate the prioritization of ticket distribution as well as building school spirit and unity for the upcoming ‘rivalry’ game against the Tar Heels.
Each event represents the ultimate rallying event that brings them all together for one cause – to be beat Carolina.
Read: Duke student’s 2012 K-Ville experience
With the local and national media attention that the UNC-NC State and UNC-Duke game brings, students at both schools have the opportunity to get the best courtside seats in the building.
With such seats always in such high demand, it seems that some students don’t realize what a great privilege they have in getting them, even if they have to brave the cold and rain to do so.
To some students, to not get a seat in these high-demand seating areas, would make it almost not worth going to watch the game live at all because they can still watch it on television.
Thus, that is why many will camp out for them.
There is a vital importance for students at both schools to campout and earn those prized seats – they are best in the house and they probably will never get the opportunity to watch from such a vantage point again after they graduate.
To understand how valuable these seats are, just doing a basic search on the internet tells the story.
Once tickets for these games are made available at both Duke and NC State, they are bought up quickly by alumni, priority ticket subscribers, the general public as well as local ticket distributors, and for very nominal prices – under $100 depending upon the package they are a part of.
However, when they are all purchased, their value then will reach ridiculous extremes according to what the market force of supply and demand will create.
It is not surprising that a ticket to the UNC-Duke game in Cameron will fetch a price in the thousands, and for a seat in the upper sections of the 9000+ seat arena no less.
Such interest builds upon the aura and propaganda surrounding the game and increases the excitement and anticipation of it all right up to the opening tip-off.
Morale of the story
For students at Duke and NC State, North Carolina is a common foe.
The UNC-Duke rivalry is specific to basketball and exists for bragging rights to determine who is the best, locally and nationally, in not only ACC play but particularly at the NCAA championship level.
The UNC-NC State rivalry exists for anything that the two institutions compete in – basically for pride – as both are the flagship institutions of the UNC system of higher education.
However, it is basketball season and the game against North Carolina that provides an extra special boost in school spirit for Wolfpack fans to look forward to every year.
Center of attention
To have such a focus on them, the Tar Heels are blessed and cursed, as they have to carry the weight of winning and losing with them constantly.
If they win, no one in the Triangle-area wants to listen to them; and if they lose, everyone wants to talk about them.
That’s life living along Tobacco Road; hoops, pride and memories wrapped up and bundled into the experience of living in a tent to be a witness to it all.
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