As a basketball fan, I knew attending the basketball games at Duke would be a highlight of my MMS experience. As a prospective student, the Duke-UNC game, in particular, would be a must-have experience. After attending the game, I can say I was right! This was one of the best game experiences I’ve ever had the chance to participate in. But the excitement isn’t just on game day; Duke-UNC is an immersive experience that starts days in advance. Let me tell you all about it.

Day 1: Coach Scheyer’s Live Radio Show

Campout allows ticket holders and non-ticket holders to get a better spot in line to enter the Duke-UNC game. Campers will receive points throughout campout by attending events before the game and being present at the campsite for “checks.” Once campout begins, no one knows when checks will occur; you just have to be present and listen out for the whistle! On the first day of campout, the actual tenting experience hadn’t begun, but our first point opportunity presented itself with Coach Scheyer’s Live Radio Show.

Attending the live radio show was a unique opportunity to hear directly from Duke men’s basketball head coach Jon Scheyer and other members of the coaching team in a smaller group setting. There was also time for the audience to ask the coaches questions. Later, the coaches played various interactive games on the court with students. One game included trivia in which undergrads faced off against graduate students on teams led by the coaches to test their Duke basketball knowledge!

A couple of tents
My home for a few days!

Day 2: Tenting Begins!

On the second day, the tenting part of the campout officially began! Tents varied from student to student, with some simply using sleeping bags and others bringing air mattresses or Duke basketball-themed decor. Once campers were checked in, checks began formally and could be called anytime from here on out. Various activities are going on throughout the day to keep campers entertained.

For example, there was a scavenger hunt to find a hidden immunity figure, reminiscent of the TV show “Survivor,” around campus that would give an exemption from being present for checks for a specific time. There was also a secret riddle that campers could solve to determine the hours when checks wouldn’t be called for the day. This allowed campers to leave or sleep without being worried about missing checks/points. With activities happening and the campsite being lively, time goes by fast!

Soon enough, it was time for dinner, and we were in for a treat. The team delivered our dinner!

Four men's Duke basketball players handing out packed meals to students camping out ahead of the game
Members of the basketball team handing out meals to campers

The rest of the day consisted of karaoke, cornhole tournaments, and a live DJ! Then, it was time for quiet hours—all wasn’t quiet as checks could still be called at any time throughout the night!

Day 3: Last Day of Tenting, Team Meeting and Coach Talk in Cameron

On Day 3, campers had the chance to participate in a dodgeball tournament and movie night. However, one of the main events was the team meeting and “Coach Talk” in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The event began with an exciting championship intramural basketball game. Then, the players and Coach Scheyer came out to express their anticipation for the game the next day and answer questions from the audience.

At the end of the event, Coach Scheyer explained to students that he didn’t just want us to remember our experience at the Duke-UNC game for the day or next week, but for life. After my experience, I can genuinely say this is a memory I won’t soon forget!

Following the meeting, campers received boxes of pizza for dinner. Since there was impending inclement weather, campers didn’t have to sleep overnight again and could pack up and leave earlier than expected after a set of checks went on throughout the night. The ESPN College GameDay trucks also arrived, increasing the anticipation of game day drawing near!

The ESPN College GameDay semitruck parked outside Cameron Indoor Stadium on Duke University's campus
The ESPN College GameDay truck parked near Cameron

Day 4: ESPN College GameDay and the Rivalry Game

The day has finally come—it’s game day! Before getting to the game later that afternoon, campers had one more chance to get points by attending ESPN College GameDay. After watching many of the commentators on TV as a spectator, it was a surreal experience to be on the set of College GameDay and experience all of the behind-the-scenes moments.

A behind-the-scenes look of the ESPN College GameDay broadcast inside Cameron Indoor Stadium
Attending the ESPN College GameDay broadcast

Once College GameDay went off the air, students learned their assigned number, which would determine when they lined up for the game based on their earned points. I was ecstatic to learn I had accumulated enough points to be in the front row!

After going through the campout experience, having this spot made it even more fulfilling, but truly, the Duke-UNC game is an exciting experience no matter where you are. After learning our numbers, students were also given a meal ticket to be redeemed at food trucks lined up outside of Krzyzewskiville for the tailgate. Then it was game time!

Everyone’s energy was apparent, even standing in line outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium, and it only intensified after walking in! I immediately recognized why I had frequently heard that this was a must-have experience as a prospective student.

Throughout the game, the fun isn’t just in watching the game. Various Duke-affiliated groups perform during breaks and students interact throughout the entire game with different chants to keep the energy high and motivate the players. Plus, you never know who will appear—like the legendary Coach K!

Even if students didn’t camp out or have tickets, they could still join the walk-up line to enter the game. I highly recommend participating in campout for the Duke-UNC game, even for those without a ticket or who don’t consider themselves a basketball fan. It’s an experience unlike any other, and you may be surprised by how much you enjoy it.

Going to a Duke basketball game can be a rare opportunity, but experiencing this matchup in the graduate student section is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Long after we leave Duke, memories like these will be the ones that stick with us!