Hoosiers ready for North Carolina

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Students at Indiana University started lining up in the wee hours of the morning to get the best seats for Tuesday night's men's basketball game against North Carolina.

Indiana will host North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Assembly Hall Tuesday night. IU holds a 7-5 edge in the series between two teams that have each won five NCAA Championships.

This is a big game that fans don't want to miss. Despite waking up at 6:00 am to camp outside Assembly Hall, fans were fired up when they spoke to Eyewitness News at Noon.

One fan dressed in a furry red hat told Eyewitness News that head coach Tom Crean delivered 150 pizzas for waiting fans.

Another fan said her group was waiting in shifts, and she was on her second rotation.

"We have general admission tickets and the Hoosiers are gonna turn out a big win," she said.

"It's a good reason to skip class, too," added a male student. "We're non-attendance-based so we're not doing anything wrong, technically."

One student reported that the university wanted to avoid situations where people were camped out for days (which is what happened ahead of last season's game against Kentucky), so university officials restricted people from staying overnight.

These fans have a goal to be as close to the action as they can.

"We want to be like in the first few rows for the game," said one fan.

For the first time since the 1979-80 preseason and for the third time in school history (1975-76), the Indiana men's basketball team started the season as the top ranked team in the country. Indiana was also picked by the Big Ten media to win the conference championship.

"Oh, IU's back!" vowed another fan.

The Hoosiers return with the same starting lineup they finished their season with last year.

Fans are hoping the atmosphere will be "pretty crazy."

"I got here when the sun wasn't up. I'm expecting a great game or I'm gonna be pretty disappointed," said a fan.

Fans said IU Athletic Director Fred Glass had stopped by and promised to bring cookies, and there was a rumor more pizza was on the way.

"We got all our food for free, so that's pretty nice!" said a fan.

This will be the third meeting in the event between the two programs with the visiting team winning both matchups - IU winning 79-66 in Chapel Hill in 2001, while the Tar Heels took home a 70-63 win in Bloomington in 2004.

Last year, the same team led IU to a 27-9 record as they earned the program's first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2002 and just the second berth in the round of 16 since 1995. Indiana was ranked 16th by the Associated Press and 13th in the final USA Today/Coaches poll.

Using the formula on how the NCAA ranks a teams' improvement from one year to the next, IU had a 15 1/2-game improvement in the standings from 2010-11, the seventh largest in NCAA history. The Hoosiers also rank 11th with 1,696 wins all-time.

(Additional stats and info from IU Athletics)