Although that is not normally the case, this year's first installment of the rivalry will feature more than its fair share of wintry weather, and that will affect the types of fans that make it into the Dean E. Smith Center tonight.
Fans from around the state and country are expected to converge on Chapel Hill for tonight's game, but with a snow and ice storm bearing down on the Triangle, North Carolina has already enacted a contingency plan to fill the seats of ticket holders who cannot make the game—more North Carolina students could earn a spot in the Dean Dome to help fill the void.
According to Matt Bowers, North Carolina men's basketball sports information director, a similar policy was enacted back in 2000 for a game between the Tar Heels and Maryland. More than 20 inches of snow had fallen on Chapel Hill, delaying the start of the game by a full day.
"Once the game had started and it was clear that many seats were going to be unused, an announcement was made that any fans in the arena could move down to be closer to the court," Bowers wrote in an email. "The doors were opened at that point to anyone who could get to the arena—which was largely, but not entirely, students."
No official announcement has made whether more North Carolina students will have access to the game due to declining attendance, but the North Carolina ticket office has made a plan available for season ticket holders to transfer their tickets to other fans.
Despite the inclement weather expected to hit the Triangle tonight, it's more likely that hell freezes over than tonight's game get canceled. By ACC rules, a game can only be canceled if the two teams and at least two of the three officials cannot make it to the game safely. No plans to adjust the game time or postpone the game have been announced, and conventional wisdom says that the Blue Devils will be able to brave the eight snowy miles between Durham and Chapel Hill so that tonight's rivalry game will go on as planned.
North Carolina's athletic department announced Wednesday afternoon that the game will go on as planned despite classes at UNC being canceled earlier that day. Regularly schedule shuttle busses for North Carolina fans will not run due to the snow.