Due to the water shortage in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels’ game against #20 Notre Dame has been moved to Sunday, February 5th, at 1:00 PM. This will have been the second Carolina game this season to have been postponed, after the Heels’ game against NCSU was pushed back a day due to wintry weather. Fortunately, this game, like that one, is far enough from UNC’s next game that it probably won’t hurt the team’s preparation or stamina. Unfortunately, this game, unlike that one, is being pushed away from Chapel Hill.
There is little reason to worry about that, though, as the Greensboro Coliseum Complex (as it is now known) is a very familiar venue for the Tar Heels. Most Tar Heel fans know that it was the longtime venue of the ACC tournament, where the Heels have historically done well, regardless of Roy Williams’ distaste for it. In fact, the Heels have won more games at the Greensboro Coliseum than at any other off-campus venue, according to Adam Carter. The winning percentage there is good as well, 115-30 translates to a 79.3% winning percentage, just slightly better than Roy Williams’ all-time winning percentage.
Of course, UNC has not just played there in the ACC tournament; it used to house in-state rival Wake Forest from 1959-1989 (Yes, it doesn’t have much relevance to the guys playing on Sunday, but Roy was coaching during some of that), and the last time the Heels played there in the regular season was, surprisingly, only three years ago, as they traveled to play UNC-Greensboro (the game was a victory, 79-56).
The last time that UNC played in Greensboro, including the postseason, might be a little more fresh in Tar Heel fans’ minds, especially as the team gears up to play Notre Dame. This is, of course, because Notre Dame was also the last team that UNC played in Greensboro, in the 2015 ACC Tournament Finals. The team lost this game 90-82 after giving up a 26-3 run in the second half. Many of the players on both sides of that matchup have gone on to be drafted to the NBA, like Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Demetrius Jackson, and Jerian Grant. Familiar faces remain, however, as the juniors and seniors on both sides were present for that game. UNC got their revenge in the ACC Tournament and again in the NCAA tournament in 2016, so there are scars on both sides from postseason situations.
This may end up being a good thing for UNC. The Greensboro Coliseum is bigger than the Dean Smith Center, so playing there to start off an absolutely brutal February schedule might give the Heels a taste of postseason play before the postseason actually starts. It’s not so much an immediate thrust into that mindset as a gradual transition because tickets aren’t being sold at Greensboro and tickets that have already been sold are being honored. That is to say that the crowd will be just as heavily pro-UNC as a home game would be. At the point in time where Roy Williams finalizes his lineups and shortens his bench in preparation for March and April, this kind of ramp-up is right up his alley. If past Carolina teams are any indication, the team should respond extraordinarily.