The North Carolina Tar Heels are one of the top five programs in college basketball history. The Heels are always near the top of the national rankings and even on that odd year that they are not, they are still a team loaded with talent, which means that by the time the NCAA Tournament rolls around each year, they are always one of the favorites.
The game of basketball’s greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, was part of the 1982 National Championship team as was another of the NBA’s all time greats, James Worthy. Many great players came from North Carolina including Bob McAdoo, Phil Ford, Mitch Kupchak, Walter Davis, Bobby Jones, J. R. Reid, Vince Carter, Brad Daugherty, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Antawn Jamison, Tyler Hansbrough, Tyler Zeller, Raymond Felton, Eric Montross, Harrison Barnes and many many more.
North Carolina has been to the NCAA Tournament 46 times, the Sweet Sixteen 31 times, the Elite Eight 26 times, the Final Four 18 times, the National Championship game nine times and won the NCAA Tournament five times (1957, 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009). Those numbers are among the best in the game. Only UCLA and Kentucky have won the NCAA Tournament more times than North Carolina and only Duke and Indiana has won as many.
The Tar Heels rivalry with Duke is among the best in all of sports. Only eight miles separate the two schools. But the two schools are very different in that UNC is a large public university and Duke a small private one. The Heels have a large new arena and Duke a small old classic gym. Duke is a “rich kid” school while UNC is more for everyone. This makes for a great rivalry, much like Cubs vs White Sox.
The Dean E Smith Center, named for North Carolina’s greatest head coach, opened in 1986 and seats almost 22,000 fans. These fans bleed Carolina blue as they are used to supporting one of college basketball’s greatest teams. Every seat has a great view of the court and walking into the arena, staring up at all those championship banners, you know you are in a place of greatness.
The concession options at the Dean E. Smith Center are second to none. You can enjoy anything from pizza, subs, chicken sandwiches, buffalo wings, barbecue sandwiches, cheesesteak sandwiches and much more as you enjoy one of the sport’s greatest teams.
The Heels play in the ACC, which is the best in all of college basketball. Duke, North Carolina State, Louisville, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Miami, Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest and Pittsburgh will all be making visits to the Smith Center if not this season, then next.
If you get a chance to go watch North Carolina basketball at the Smith Center, do not pass it up. You will especially want to go if you can watch them in the conference part of the schedule when the intensity ramps up. There may not be a better venue in college basketball than the Dean E. Smith Center.
image courtesy of goheels.com