unc ticket lottery

So You Want to Go to a Basketball Game…

Being a student at UNC has a lot of perks – endless career-advancing opportunities, a community of outstanding faculty, and of course, complimentary tickets to athletic events. Yep, the rumors are true, you can get into any home regular-season game of any Carolina sporting event with just your OneCard… except basketball. While basketball tickets are still free for students, they are a little harder to finesse than other sports, given that these tickets are highly coveted by many Tar Heel fans across the globe. But I’m here to break it down for you so you never miss a game in the Dean Dome again!

The Lottery

Pre-season games are typically fair game for students, no lottery or ticket required! Just show up with your OneCard and you’ll be good to go. Conference games are a little trickier. Early in the year, students will receive an email with a list (example pictured right) identifying lottery and non-lottery games, along with dates the lottery opens and closes. The lottery is entered through an online website, and then students are randomly selected to receive tickets. Odds of ‘winning’ the lottery and receiving tickets vary by game and number of students requesting tickets.

On the designated date, students will receive an email either containing their tickets or notifying them that they have not been selected. Winners receive two tickets to every game except the Dook game, so you can take a friend! Tickets are allocated in ‘phases’ which decide what time you can enter the arena. Phase One means you can get in the earliest (typically 90 minutes before tip), giving you the best seat selection.

Risers are first come first-serve, but from my experience you should have Phase One tickets and arrive one to two hours before your entry time to line up for to ensure you get a good spot in the risers (this is highly dependent on the game and time of the game, however).

The Turn-It-Back Line

If you don’t get tickets from the lottery, don’t let that discourage you from attending. The Carolina Athletic Association distributes all excess tickets in-person through the Turn-It-Back Line. This occurs a few days before the game, but specific details frequently change, so for more information, refer to your lottery rejection email!

The Stand-By Line

If all else fails, turn to the Stand-By Line. At tip-off, any unused student ticket will be redistributed to students in the stand-by line. While you won’t get a front row seat, you still get the game-day atmosphere within the Dean Dome, and it’s still tons of fun! I’ve found this line to be highly successful (especially for the Dook game where the redistribute all tickets, not just student tickets), so it’s definitely worth a shot.

Carolina Fever

Fever is a student organization for the highly dedicated fans. Essentially you get points for attending athletic events such as football, soccer, lacrosse, etc. and during basketball season the top 150 students with the most points are guaranteed two phase one tickets to every game, as well as one phase one ticket to the Dook game. In order to get full points, you must swipe-in and out of games with your OneCard (no, you can’t get away with swiping in and leaving five minutes later).

While this is a pretty high commitment, in my opinion it is completely worth it! It boosts comradery for the other sports and gives you incredible perks (no more stressing about the lottery!). You’ll meet some amazing people just as passionate as Carolina athletics as you are and you’ll have the opportunity to be on the risers in the Dean Dome for a Dook game (which is an incredibly big deal and honestly was one of the highlights of my college career thus far).


So now you know how basketball tickets work, here’s my insight on how to use the system to your advantage:

  1. Follow @unccaa, @UNCStudentTix, and @CarolinaFever on Twitter. These accounts are all super helpful in reminding you to enter the lottery, keeping you updated on all things Carolina, and giving you all the resources to get you in the game.
  2. Write the lottery dates in your calendar, make a poster, or set up alerts on your phone. Forgetting to enter the lottery is the absolute worst, so be proactive and make sure it doesn’t happen!
  3. Work out a ‘you take me when you win and I’ll take you when I win’ deal with a friend giving you a better shot at getting tickets. (note that this one can become sticky and cause drama with other friends so be careful how you go about it!)
  4. Don’t buy or sell student tickets. It’s a violation of the Honor Code and could jeopardize your ability to receive tickets in the future!
  5. Don’t not go to games if you receive tickets. There is a way to turn back your tickets if something comes up leaving you unable to attend, use it. Otherwise you get penalized in future lotteries, slimming your chances of winning.
  6. Arrive at the Dean Dome with friends you want to sit with. You need to have the same phase, otherwise you won’t be able to sit together (unless the person with the better phase is willing to sacrifice and go in later). There is a strict no seat-saving policy and seats are on a first-come, first-served basis.
  7. Don’t give up when you don’t get tickets – exhaust all options. If you are persistent enough, I promise you can get into (almost) any game you want, including the Dook game!

Basketball games are one of my favorite parts of being a student. This opportunity of not having to pay for tickets is something you have to take advantage of while you have it! Only 103 days until the first home game… Go Heels.

So You Want to Go to a Basketball Game… Being a student at UNC has a lot of perks – endless career-advancing opportunities, a community of outstanding faculty, and of course, complimentary

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