My First Trip to Chapel Hill (Part Two)

Site expert Nick Delahanty recently made his first trip to Chapel Hill. What did he have to say about the second day he visited the North Carolina Tar Heels?!

November 11, 2022. 9:49 AM EST.

It was a couple of hours before the news of the UNC basketball program’s game against the College of Charleston, but here I was, about to see the Dean Smith Center for the first time.

We had planned to start the day at the Carolina Basketball Museum, but of course, I headed over to my favorite team’s famous arena. While the area was clear, I wanted to make sure I had some photos of the view to take home with me.

As my family posed for photos, current assistant coach Jackie Manuel (and 2005 National Champion) walked by and said good morning. Not wanting to disturb Manuel, we said our goodbyes and went on our way, but the man was so cool that he casually walked past him.

The museum opened at 10am and we made our way through. Let me tell you, I could have spent hours in there admiring all the basketball-related memorabilia from UNC.

If the intro video doesn’t excite you enough, the content inside sure will.

From national championship trophies to floor markers showing where some of the greatest pitches in Tar Heels history took place, the museum has something for everyone.

For UNC basketball fans, this is definitely a must-visit venue.

After spending quite some time in the museum, we decided it was time for lunch. What better way to pre-game for a Tar Heels basketball game than to visit the Town Hall Grill for some player-inspired meals!

We ordered our Armando Bacot “Mondo Burger” and some “Lock Down Leaky Chicken Tenders”, named after Leaky Black, of course.

Both meals make us wish they were available back home in Jersey. They were delicious!

Once lunch was over, we returned to the Dean Smith Center. No, we didn’t have any more photos planned yet, but we wanted to find out where our parking lot was before tonight’s game.

Driving past the Dean Dome, we noticed freshman Tyler Nickel walking the area. Of course, we stopped by to say hello, because Tyler was so nice and took some time to talk to us and take some pictures.

If you haven’t seen him play, just know this: He can shoot a full-court basketball!

Back at the hotel, we stopped to visit one of the most interesting features of the Graduate Hotel: the replica of Michael Jordan’s room.

You truly feel like you’re in Jordan’s real dorm room, as the room is exactly what we’ve seen in various photos of the legendary UNC basketball player. From the CBS Sports banner to the flannel shirt and umbrella on the bed, Jordan himself could be seen listening to his music and enjoying himself.

As beautiful as the first half of the day was, the nightcap found a way to get through it!

It was raining heavily in Chapel Hill when we first entered the Dean Dome, but that didn’t bother us one bit. Personally, I was focused on finding my way to court as soon as possible.

If I haven’t already said it, the people of North Carolina are so nice. The people we met along the way helped make this weekend’s visit special.

Once we entered the arena, we approached the first usher we saw for assistance. We told him that it was our first time there as his response shocked us all.

“Before you hit the road, go down the stairs here and go take some pictures in the field.”

Wait what?!

I was really shocked by his response, as I’m so used to the New Jersey/New York style of how stadiums and arenas work. However, I don’t think I’ve ever descended any faster than the ones I’ve raced in Section 124 of the Dean Dome.

Not only were we able to get our picture taken on the court, but we also got to watch the entire Tar Heels warmup from ringside, right next to where the UNC basketball players were.

At this rate, I was already over the moon with my experiences, even with the game still about 25 minutes away! Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, it somehow did.

I met the great Roy Williams.

I still can’t believe it, but it happened. The best part was, Roy was everything I hoped he would be. If it weren’t for the picture as visual evidence, I’d still think it was a dream.

Ok, now we come to game time and I’ve never been happier listening to the song “Jump Around”. Even for a non-conference game, the Dean Dome was AWESOME, with 20,000 people cheering on the No. 1 Tar Heels.

North Carolina’s 6th Man/Arena Host BDaht got the crowd going early and often. Seeing it live in action shows just how valuable it is, providing a boost of energy not many programs can come close to.

Everything went great, until the UNC basketball program trailed by seven at the half with star Armando Bacot scoring just one point in the first 20 minutes of play.

I won’t lie, I sat during halftime and asked myself, “Am I a jynx for my favorite team?!”

I promise if they lost, I would never set foot in the Dean Dome again. However, a dominant second half by Bacot and Caleb Love led the Tar Heels to a double-digit win and cookies for the fans.

Apart from the first half disadvantage, I don’t think you could have written my evening better.

We returned to the hotel and enjoyed a late night McDonald’s as we prepared for the next (and final) day of our trip to Chapel Hill.

Up next: another stop at Carmichael Arena, this time to see the UNC women’s basketball program live.

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