In anticipation of Saturday's showdown between No. 2 Syracuse and No. 17 Duke, nearly 200 Syracuse students have been spending the greater part of the past two weeks camping out next to the Carrier Dome. With the Cameron Crazies occupying Krzyzewskiville in anticipation of a March 8 matchup with North Carolina, the tent city's counterpart has sprung up in Syracuse, N.Y—they call it Boeheimburg.
"Our rules state that you're allowed to start camping for the next home game three hours after tip of the previous home game," said Ben Glidden, a Syracuse senior and president of Otto's Army, the Orange's student section. "We had Pittsburgh [at home Sat. Jan. 18] and in theory we could start camping that night. The Carrier Dome asked us not to start camping until Sunday night because there was a Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration in the Dome. My group brought our tent out on Sunday night, and we were the first group there."
Groups at Syracuse are capped at four members, and one member of each group must be present at all times. As a member of Group 1, Glidden controls The List, the registration form for each group. Unlike at Duke, where Line Monitors supervise and regulate the tenting process, Syracuse's line-check system is dictated at the discretion of Group 1.
Gabby Hodgins, this year's Head Line Monitor for Krzyzewskiville, said Syracuse's policies differ from Duke's because of the vastly different timeframes within which the systems operate. Otto's Army spends a few nights outside, but the Cameron Crazies camp out for as long as six weeks. The senior contended that K-Ville's longer commitment and policy of making as many as 10 people sleep in the tent at one time create a strong tenting community.
"What makes K-Ville so great is the atmosphere on game day, with the music blasting and the community around the game," Hodgins said. "When you only need to have one person there at a time, it takes away from that kind of experience."
Given the unusually long gap between Orange home games, this year's camp-out will be the longest in the history of Otto's Army. Although the rules governing Syracuse's tenting policy restrict the length of the time students can camp out in advance of a game, they say nothing about dealing with the elements.
"In the past we've been pretty strict on not letting people go home [due to weather]," Glidden said. "In the past we've had snowstorms and blizzards and we've moved tenting inside the Dome. This year we had that whole polar vortex thing, and there were about three nights where it reached -10, -15 degrees. For those three nights we allowed campers to go home from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. for the safety of the students."
During the past 10 days of tenting, nightly low temperatures in Syracuse, N.Y., have averaged 2.6 degrees Fahrenheit. By contrast, K-ville rules dictate that tenters are given mandatory grace for the night should the temperature drop below 25 degrees. Relief appears to be on the way for residents of Boeheimburg, as an uptick of temperatures has a projected low of 25 degrees for the final night before Saturday's matchup.
As of Wednesday night, there were 47 tents occupying Boeheimburg. Syracuse students purchase season tickets at the beginning of the year and are guaranteed a spot in the Carrier Dome's 5,000-plus-seat student section, which has reduced interest in braving the freezing cold.
Although Saturday's game against Duke is the first camp-out of the season for Otto's Army, it's not unfamiliar. Boeheimburg was first established during the 2006-07 season, and usually hosts one big camp-out every year. Last season, students spent 10 days outside for Syracuse's final home game against Georgetown as Big East rivals. That game drew 35,012 fans, the largest crowd to take in a college basketball game hosted on a university's campus in NCAA history. That record is expected to be in jeopardy for Saturday's Duke-Syracuse matchup.
Syracuse officials had the opportunity to shatter the record against Duke by moving the court from the end zone of the Carrier Dome's football field to midfield, but decided in the summer they would not make the move. Glidden said he would've loved to have seen 50,000 fans on hand for the game, but noted that altering the court's configurations would disrupt Syracuse's home court advantage by altering depth perceptions for players.
Regardless of crowd size, Saturday's game has been the talk of campus and a large reason why the Orange sold a record number of student tickets this year. "Beat Duke" T-shirts have been available in the Syracuse campus bookstore since the beginning of the school year.
"It's a big deal with two legendary coaches battling, but we're the newcomers to the ACC and we're in the position where we don't necessarily have a rival yet," Glidden said. "Obviously Duke has had a rival for many, many years and we're not going to change that, but I think the 'Beat Duke' shirts show that we're ready to come at Duke a little bit and show them that we're just as crazy as them, just as crazy as UNC and can give them a battle every year.... No other game has compared to the hype around this."
When the Orange travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a Feb. 22 rematch against the Blue Devils, tenting will still be in full swing for Duke students. Hodgins said she and the other line monitors expect a great deal of interest for Syracuse's first visit to Duke as an ACC member—but scoring a prime seat won't be easy.
"You could make the argument that it'll be our biggest home game of the season, on par with Miami last year," Hodgins said. "Black tenters will be allowed to sleep in their tent and still be in line for Syracuse. I'd expect [non-black tenters] to sleep out for about five days, but that would be on the sidewalk with no tents allowed."