Home court advantage is something that is mostly attributed to the NBA playoffs, but over the past three seasons the concept can be carried over to UNC basketball. Since the 2015-2016 season, North Carolina has lost 21 regular season games. Not bad for a three-season span. Of those 21 regular season losses, only four have come at the Smith Center, with three of them coming in the 2017-2018 season, and zero home court losses coming in 2016-2017. That leaves only one home loss for the 2015-2016 season.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is no small feat. It’s safe to say that everyone that comes to play Carolina comes in with a chip on their shoulder. That’s just what happens when you’ve been at the top of the game for decades. Yet only four teams, and only one outside of the ACC (ugh, Wofford...) have been able to accomplish what so many have strived for the past three seasons. Which begs the question, why have the Tar Heels been able to hold home court advantage for the better part of three years?
There are many different pieces that could help us answer this question; familiarity, feel for the court/environment, not having to travel. However it gets deeper than these superficial factors. Even though some continue to overlook it, fans of the Carolina basketball program show up and show out every game. Some like to hate on those that consistently fill the 21,000+ seats at the Dean Dome, referring to them as a wine and cheese crowd. While I hardly find being classy an insult, I speak from experience when I say every game has an intense and electric buzz about it that emanates from the stands down to the court. I mean even the parking lot I shuttled from in 2016 had dozens of strangers joining in on spontaneous “Tar” “Heels” chants, and that was for a Northern Iowa game over Christmas break! You won’t find that many other places, and it shows in the home record.
The dedication and passion that we in the stands bring provides that little extra motivation for the players. They put their heart and souls into every game, and even when their bodies want them to pull back (Joel Berry playing on two sprained ankles, Luke Maye returning to a game after getting five stitches in his face, Marcus Paige hitting a game winner against Louisville on a hurt foot to name a few) they continue to push forward. It’s because we as fans care so much that they are able to reconnect with the passion they have for both the sport and the Carolina community every time they step on the court, and that results in wins.
Sure complacency can set in. And there are definitely some off nights. And yeah, sometimes the other team just straight up out plays our boys in blue. But those things amount for a small sample size of games; probably something close to 4/47 in three years. Just saying. There’s a reason the university recently named the home court after Roy Williams, and that’s because his teams have absolutely owned it the past three years, thanks in large part to the home court advantage we as fans help to create.