Basketball Fever Takes Over at UNC

By Pam Robinson

Apr 6, 2009 2:32pm

ABC News On Campus reporter Walter Storholt blogs:

The national championship buzz is in the air in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina. Even though it’s Monday, discussions in the dining hall don’t center on the weekend’s best parties or the normal groans and moans about another week of classes. Instead, the chatter is about whether or not Wayne Ellington’s jump shot will be on tonight. Students are asking each other whether Danny Green is truly the key to success for a victory in the championship game.

Dozens of tour groups picked the best day of the year to walk around campus, despite the torrential downpours. Less information about the university’s history is being presented by guides, and parents and prospective students alike are breaking off into smaller groups to talk about the game.

Tonight is four years in the making. Roy Williams has had four years to mold Tyler Hansbrough, Bobby Frasor and Danny Green and has spent three years fine-tuning the skills of guys like Ty Lawson, Ellington and Deon Thompson.

I remember as a high school senior watching the Tar Heels win the national championship in 2005 saying, too bad I wasn’t there. Now, as a senior, I am here. And it might happen again.

Stores on Franklin Street have their stores packed with Final Four gear. As the game clock hits zero tonight, if the Tar Heels win, printing presses throughout the state will turn on their machines immediately. Stores on Franklin Street will have brand new shirts by 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The Dean Dome will be packed tonight with rabid fans watching the game on big-screen projectors. Bars will overflow with not only beer, but also fans spilling into the streets. Even now, hours before the game, fans are grabbing seats at their favorite bars to watch the game.

At midnight, one of two things will happen. Either Franklin Street will fill with 50,000-plus screaming fans, or it will fill with (still a few thousand) confused and frustrated followers.

Some classes on Tuesday are already canceled. Win or lose, one professor put it, you’ll need the day off to recover from celebrating or from drowning your sorrows.

What are the expectations? That’s a hard question to answer. At the beginning of the season, UNC beat Michigan State by 35 points on the same court the two teams will play on tonight. But this is the national championship. Certainly things have changed for both teams. But expectations have been that North Carolina will win the national championship for the last three seasons. Although that has led to disappointment the last two seasons, that could all be forgotten tonight.

This time it looks like those expectations might be met.

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