My very first trip to Chapel Hill (part 2)

Location expert Nick Delahanty recently made his first-ever trip to Chapel Hill. What does he have to say about the second day he attended the North Carolina Tar Heels?!

November 11, 2022. 9:49 am EST.

The UNC basketball program’s match against the College of Charleston was only happening a few hours ago, but here I was, about to catch my first glimpse of the Dean Smith Center.

We wanted to start the day at the Carolina Basketball Museum, but of course I drifted straight towards my favorite team’s famous arena. While the area was clear I wanted to make sure I could take home some pictures of the view.

As my family posed for photos, current assistant coach Jackie Manuel (and 2005 national champion) stopped by and said good morning. Not wanting to bother Manuel we said good morning back and headed off but the man was so cool walking right past him.

The museum opened at the regular 10am time and we went inside. Let me tell you I could have spent hours admiring all the UNC basketball memorabilia.

If the introductory video doesn’t push you enough, the content certainly will.

From national championship trophies to floor markings showing where some of the greatest shooting in tar heels history took place, the museum has something for everyone.

For avid UNC basketball fans, this is undoubtedly a must-see.

After spending some time at the museum we decided it was time to have some lunch. What better way to prepare for a Tar Heels basketball game than by visiting the Town Hall Grill for some player-inspired meals!

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

Both meals we wish were available back home in Jersey. They were delicious!

After we finished lunch we made our way back 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 is before tonight’s game.

As we drove past the Dean Dome, we noticed newcomer Tyler Nickel walking in the area. Of course we had to stop and say hello as Tyler was very nice and took some time to chat with us and take some photos.

If you haven’t seen him play, just know this: he can shoot the basketball full throttle!

Back at the hotel, we stopped to check out one of the Graduate Hotel’s coolest features: the replica Michael Jordan room.

You really feel like you are in Jordan’s real dorm room as the room is exactly what we have seen in various pictures of the legendary UNC basketball player. From the CBS Sports banner to the flannel shirt and umbrella laid out on the bed, Jordan himself could be seen standing there listening to his music and having a good time.

As cool as the first half of the day was, the nightcap found a way to top 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 focused on finding my way to court as quickly as possible.

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

As soon as we got to the arena we went to the first usher we saw to ask for help. We told him it was our first time there when his response shocked us all.

“Before you head out, go down the stairs here and take some photos in the square.”

Wait what?!

I was really shocked by his reaction 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 faster than what I stormed down in Section 124 of the Dean Dome.

Not only were we able to take our photo on the court, but we also watched the entire Tar Heels warm-up from the front row right next to the UNC basketball players.

At this pace I was already over the moon with my experience even though the game was still about 25 minutes away! Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it kinda did.

I met the great Roy Williams.

I still can’t believe it, but it happened. Best of all, Roy was everything I hoped for. If it wasn’t for the picture as visual evidence I would still think it was a dream.

Okay, now we come to playtime, and I’ve never been happier to hear the song “Jump Around”. Even for an out-of-conference game, the Dean Dome ROCKED as 20,000 people came out to cheer on the #1 Tar Heels.

North Carolina’s 6th Man/Arena host BDaht got the crowd going early and often. Seeing him live in action shows just how valuable he is, delivering an energy boost that not many programs can match.

Everything was great until the UNC basketball program was down by seven at halftime and star Armando Bacot scored just a point in the first 20 minutes.

I’m not going to lie – I sat there during halftime and asked myself, “Am I a steed for my favorite team?!”

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

Aside from being behind in the first half, I don’t think you could have planned my evening any better.

We returned to the hotel and enjoyed McDonald’s late at night while preparing for the next (and final day) of our trip to Chapel Hill.

Next up: another stop at Carmichael Arena, this time to watch the UNC women’s basketball program live in action.