The Triangle boasts some of the most recognizable teams in college basketball. Duke and UNC, of course, have been staples of consistency and winning throughout the country. A newly reinvigorated NC State basketball program is coming off of a Sweet Sixteen appearance. Outside of the Triangle, Wake Forest, Davidson and Charlotte have a combined 10 Elite Eight appearances.
No doubt, North Carolina has an impressive college basketball resumè. However, we might not be as dominate as perceived. The University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) has as many national championships as the entire state of North Carolina combined. Kentucky includes two of the elite teams in college basketball, University of Kentucky and Louisville. Indiana has been a state of consistency, with University of Illinois, Purdue, Notre Dame and a Butler team who came off back-to-back national championship appearances a year ago.
Culture, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.”
No other state has a better college basketball culture, as defined earlier, than North Carolina.
The argument must begin with the highlighting the best college fans in the country, the Cameron Crazies of Duke. It is quite puzzling how such a prestigious university can produce such maniacal fans. The inventors of the popular “air ball” chant, the fans of Duke have sent opposing cheerleaders home crying and turned great players into insignificance ones.
The NCAA has imposed many restrictions on fans because of the Cameron Crazies, and one time NBC insisted on a time delay to censor the crowd if necessary. Cameron Indoor Stadium can get to 120 dB at times, as loud as thunder or a jackhammer.
Down Tobacco Road is the UNC Tar Heels, college of perhaps the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan. After nearly 100 years of college basketball, the Tar Heels have had 10 losing seasons.
In an interview after a 2007 loss to the Tar Heels, Ohio State coach Thad Matta said, “I think I’ve never been in a building that was as loud as that building was at times.” The Tar Heels have produced perhaps the most NBA talent, and are a symbol of winning consistency in college basketball.
The Tar Heels’ rivalry with Duke is one of the most intense in sports. The rivals are nine miles from each other, and Duke-UNC games are the paragon of college basketball.
NC State is not to be forgotten in college basketball culture. Only 11 other teams have had multiple national championships, excluding Duke and North Carolina. The Wolfpack play in the PNC arena, which is the tenth largest arena in the NCAA, but still manage to sell it out. In 1983, a Jim Valvano led NC State team pulled of the biggest upset in March Madness history. On the court after the national championship, Jimmy V. started the tradition of cutting down the nets after winning a title.
The amazing thing is, these teams manage their winning ways despite playing each other two times a year.
While winning isn’t the only factor when considering the culture of a team, North Carolina teams are consistently having winning seasons. The volume of the venues, winning ways, and rabid fans points to one conclusion: The college basketball tradition and culture in North Carolina is unparalleled in the country.