. The first game on the schedule was Saturday in Chapel Hill with North Carolina facing Miami. UNC has been struggling this year but I didn't realize it has been as bad as it has until I saw their 1-6 record in the ACC. Miami wasn't much better at 2-6 though.
Our hotel is in Raleigh so we made the 30 minute drive to Chapel Hill and arrived about 1.5 hours before tip off. The parking garage we used was next to the football stadium and that's where the notable UNC ram statue is located. When it was unveiled in 2002, it was the largest ram statue in the world at the time. You could also see the Carolina blue seats of the football field as we walked around it to the Dean Smith Center too.
It was about a 3/4 mile walk and we got to see a lot of the campus on the way. It's very nice with tall pine trees and old brick buildings mixed with newer buildings. The Dean Smith was much to look at from the outside, a big brown building. Inside Carolina blue was everywhere. The had banners hanging in the concourse announcing where concessions and restrooms where. On the top part of the outer wall of the concourse, team photos were mounted side by side around the entirety of the building. And of course above the court, retired numbers, conference championship banners, and NCAA championship banners. There is a separate museum that we are planning to visit later in the trip with a view of the more historical background of the program.
We found our seats up in top part of the upper section. It wasn't necessarily a bad view up there, but the seats were very small for the 3 of us to sit next to each other. So we checked StubHub to see if anyone was selling better seats at a low price. Ours had been purchased directly from the school and had paid face value and spending a little more for better seats was a no brainer. About 20 minutes before tip off we found another set of seats about midcourt on row 28ish. It was a much better view and the seats were a little more spacious, but not much.
The game started and UNC was off to the races. Miami didn't have much going and UNC was hot from the 3-point line. As I've visited more gyms outside of Texas, it has been interesting to me how little of the extra "marketing" these older, established schools do during the game. There weren't any on court games during timeouts and the cheer group was named for a burger chain. The only extra yesterday was an introduction of the football team in the first half and a thank you to the crowd by head coach Mack Brown for supporting team this past fall. One of my favorite things is the two mascots during the game. I've seen it at Kansas too, but they have a shorter mascot, so it's like a little sibling type mascot and an adult one cheering on the team. The pair are just funny to me!
North Carolina won by a wide margin (94-71) and several walk-ons played during the last 4 minutes of the game. We didn't realize until later that with the win, Roy Williams passed Dean Smith on the all time wins with #880. Not much was made during or after the game about it.
After the game we walked to the bookstore and saw The Old Well, the original water well dug to provide water for the campus. For lunch we ate at The Pig. I had the Carolina-Boy sandwich. It had pulled pork, collard greens and pimento cheese on French bread hoagie. It was amazing!
Back at the hotel we watched the remaining games of the Big 12/SEC challenge and got to bed early so we could leave for Winston-Salem in the morning, to watch Wake Forest take on Virginia.
It was a fun first day and I'm excited for Sunday. We are planning to come back to Chapel Hill and visit the basketball museum they have.