The Arena Pulse: No. 3-Dean Smith Center (North Carolina)
It’s never easy to go on the road in college basketball. This is a top 25 breakdown of some of the toughest and most intimidating venues in college basketball.
Venue: Dean E. Smith Center
School Name: University of North Carolina
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
One of the first things that come to mind when you think of the University of North Carolina is that baby blue color. A team that may be hated by many is also one of the more loved programs in college basketball, and a trip to Chapel Hill is all that is needed to remind you of how passionate North Carolina’s fan base is.
Known as the Dean E. Smith Center, or more simply the “Dean Dome,” the venue, located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has been home to the Tar Heels since 1986. Named after one of college basketball’s more famous coaches, Dean Smith, Tar Heel fans will fill its nearly 22,000 seats with screaming fans.
From a history of winning, whether it is at home or on an overall scale, it is clear why the Tar Heels are one of the nation’s most beloved teams. However, with the excitement in the baby blue, also comes a hatred, just ask their bitter rivals down the road.
Forming one of sports’ greatest rivalries, North Carolina and Duke battle on the court twice a year, one home game for each. It is the biggest game on the schedule each year for both teams and as always the atmosphere that is provided is a sight to see.
With an overall home winning percentage of .845 it is very clear the advantage North Carolina has on its home court. While including three undefeated seasons at home since its opening, the Dean Dome is no easy stop for any team to make.
Any win on the road in Chapel Hill is an accomplishment in its own. Just ask Boston College, who last season went into Chapel Hill and took out the No. 1 ranked Tar Heels.
Led by 25 points from Tyrese Rice and another 22 from Rakim Sanders, the Eagles stunned the Tar Heels and instantly moved into consideration for the Top 25. It is one thing to go on the road and beat a No. 1 ranked team, to do it in Chapel Hill though will raise some eyebrows on its own.
Inside the Dean Smith Center, there is more than enough proof to what exactly North Carolina basketball represents. From its National Championship banners to the retired jerseys of some of the best Tar Heels to come through, the history of success is highly noticeable. From the 21,750 baby blue seats to the screaming fans that cover them, the tradition of Tar Heel basketball means a lot to its fans.
From the past to present, each year North Carolina welcomes opponents into Chapel Hill and one of college basketball’s best atmospheres is in full force again. The Tar Heels roll into 2009-2010 coming off a National Championship, however do not expect a rebuilding year and could find themselves in the Top 10 heading into the season.
In non-conference play, the Tar Heels welcome in Isaiah Thomas and Florida International in the first game of the season, as well as visits from Nevada and Rutgers before the end of December.
However, their biggest non-conference matchup includes a rematch of last year’s National Championship. Twice last year the Tar Heels beat the Spartans in Detroit, Michigan; however this year Michigan State looks to go into Chapel Hill and exact their revenge.
The ACC schedule renews annual match-ups against conference rivals including a visit from the Duke Blue Devils on February 10. The likes of Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and Florida State will also pay a visit to the Dean Dome later in the season.
North Carolina fans love their basketball; there is no doubt about that. And, as another season is right on the horizon, fans of the defending National Champions could not be more excited.
Head Coach Roy Williams opens up another year leading the Tar Heels and with a history of success and the support from their fans, passion in Chapel Hill will be shown again and the Dean Smith Center will be rocking.
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