North Carolina, one of the favorites to reach the Final Four, begins its season away from home. There's the Carrier Classic in San Diego for the opener, and two days later, the Tar Heels go to play North Carolina-Asheville to help open a new arena there that Roy Williams helped build in his hometown.
Not often does a Big South team get to host a national championship contender to start the season, and so hundreds of UNC Asheville students who attended the first practice at Kimmel Arena on Friday were given free tickets for the upcoming showdown, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.
The excitement of the new arena, a new season for a Bulldogs' program coming off a 20-win season and NCAA tournament appearance and the rare opportunity to see the Tar Heels play in Asheville brought out the students, who stood patiently in line until the doors opened shortly after 5 p.m.
"I got here around 3:15 p.m., and I’m the first one in line," said Ashlei Clodfelter, 20, a junior from Winston-Salem.
"There was a guy who pitched a tent here (Thursday), but he packed it in. Said it was too cold."
In less than two hours before the doors opened, 463 students from an enrollment of 3,600 were in line, passing time by texting, reading, socializing and listening to a two-person impromptu band on a ukelele and makeshift drum.
Those who attend the game will get to see Harrison Barnes and Co., but don't forget UNC Asheville, which was picked to win the Big South, has some players as well. Matt Dickey is the league's preseason player of the year, and it's actually the Bulldogs' J.P. Primm who will be the only player on the court to have declared for the NBA draft.
Were some of the UNC Asheville students in line the other day bigger supporters of North Carolina? Possibly, but it looked like those in attendance had fun taking in the scrimmage and dunk contest at the first Dunkin' at the Doghouse event.