On Monday, we got some exciting North Carolina basketball news. It was announced that the men’s basketball team had scheduled a home-and-home series against fellow blue blood Kansas for games in the 2024-25 and 2025-26 seasons.
While UNC have played in plenty of high profile games in recent years, this series marks the return oh a big time, non-conference home-and-home matchup. Not counting ACC games or ACC-Big Ten/now ACC-SEC Challenge matchups, this is the first series like this that North Carolina have played in since the Gonzaga home-and-home series that was played in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
However, series like that used to be a far more regular occurrence. With those games in mind, let’s look back at some memorable moments from big time, non-conference home-and-homes over the years.
Maybe the most high profile home-and-home — not counting Duke, NC State, or any other conference rivalries — UNC have ever played in was the regular series they used to have with Kentucky. Starting on December 1, 2000, the teams played each other every season through 2011-12, and then again visited each other in a home-and-home in December of both 2013 and 2014. They’ve played a couple times in events like the CBS Sport Classic and once in a memorable NCAA Tournament game since then, but never have returned to the other’s home court.
In the series back in the day, Kentucky rattled off four-straight wins to start. UNC then answered back with five-straight wins, starting in 2004-05 on the road to Roy Williams’ first title. However, the most memorable win in that span arguably came the next year.
That day, a very young Tar Heel team went on the road and took down then #10 Kentucky in Lexington. While a 12-point halftime lead ended up in just a four-point win, UNC eventually hung on. Now, you might think “Ah, December 2005, that must’ve been an early Tyler Hansbrough breakout performance?” It was not. He was held to just six points on one made field goal. The star that day for Carolina was Reyshawn Terry, who scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds. He also hit two free throws with six seconds left to help put away the game.
Six years later, both teams were highly ranked in another memorable battle between the two schools. The two top five ranked teams went back and forth all day long, with Kentucky holding a one-point lead in the final seconds. UNC got the ball down the floor, and John Henson got a shot off, only for a young Anthony Davis to come up with an incredible block to win the game for the Wildcats.
For much of that season, that game seemed like a preview of things to come in the Final Four or national title game. I won’t make you relive what happened next, though.
From 2001 to ‘05, UNC also played four memorable matchups against UConn. Other than the first one, which was a blowout loss that came in the 8-20 season, the other three games were all decided by single digits, with Carolina coming out on top every time.
The most memorable of those came in January 2004 in Roy Williams’ first season back. That day, UNC took down then #1 and the future national champion Huskies thanks to a late three from Rashad McCants.
There are plenty more examples from over the years, probably tons from the pre-regularly televised games era. If we’re lucky, the upcoming UNC-Kansas matchups will produce some more memorable moments.