North Carolina celebrates another hoops title Print
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Monday, 06 April 2009 18:29
NCAAB Headline News


 CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -North Carolina fans had nearly all Monday night to prepare for the Tar Heels to be crowned national champions again.
Yet the moment still overwhelmed Scott Blackburn.
``It was destiny,'' the 26-year-old UNC fan said. ``It was Tyler's destiny.''
Blackburn was one of the thousands of fans who descended upon Chapel Hill to cheer on the Tyler Hansbrough and North Carolina as they claimed their fifth NCAA title by beating Michigan State 89-72 in Detroit in a drama-free championship game.
Students and fans packed the Smith Center to watch Hansbrough, Ty Lawson and the rest of coach Roy Williams' team in larger-than-life fashion, on a 16-foot-by-20-foot screen and four video scoreboards.
Moments after the doors opened, hundreds of students and fans made mad dashes through the concourse and down the aisles to secure the best seats - some directly below the banners that commemorate the school's previous national titles.
ustomary here before a game. They roared with glee as the Tar Heels needed only about four minutes to build a double-digit lead. And after they went up by 20 midway through the first half - making victory almost certain - the time on the game clock couldn't tick away quickly enough.
Then again, it felt like it had been ticking for four long years for senior Kathy Walker. The bass drummer in the pep band was a high school senior in nearby Mebane, N.C., for the most recent title in 2005.
``I was like, 'One time while I'm here,''' said the English and psychology major who painted herself blue for the occasion.
She matched the overwhelming majority of the more than 10,000 fans inside the 21,750-seat arena who wore T-shirts, jerseys and anything else they could find that came in the light shade of blue known locally as ``Carolina blue.''
Bars along the campus' main downtown drag filled throughout the day in anticipation of the Tar Heels' title.
Guy Murphy, the general manager at Top of the Hill restaurant on Franklin Street, said ``a couple of hundred'' people lined up around the block - some camping in tents as early as 2 a.m. Monday - to claim tickets for reserved seating in the restaurant's dining and patio area.
By Monday evening, an around-the-corner line at the door seemed to fulfill Murphy's prediction for his 450-capacity restaurant: ``We'll have every square foot filled up.''
here's definitely a buzz about town,'' Murphy said. ``There's Carolina blue everywhere.''
Title No. 5 came in the Tar Heels' record 18th trip to the Final Four. After their last championship, nearly 50,000 fans poured onto Franklin for a post-game party that lasted into the early morning hours, and a similar turnout was expected this time.
``We have no reason to think it would be any smaller this year,'' said Chapel Hill Police Capt. Chris Blue. He said 330 officers from several law enforcement agencies were on duty Monday night.
A few months ago, this is exactly how the faithful figured the season would end - especially after four key players returned from last year's Final Four team, including Hansbrough, the reigning national player of the year.
North Carolina opened as the first team unanimously picked No. 1 in the preseason The Associated Press Top 25 since it began in 1981.
 

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