Monday afternoon, North Carolina's Twitter handle sent out a tweet requesting for someone to answer the call to play ball, and after a few short hours, Northeastern slid in their DMs.
Carolina added the non-conference game after the February 16th game against Virginia Tech was postponed due to Covid-19 safety protocols in the Hokie program. UNC's third ACC home game was delayed (also January 12th vs. Clemson and February 8th vs. Miami). None of the three have been re-scheduled to date. This is UNC's latest non-conference regular-season game since hosting North Carolina A&T in 2003, almost to the date.
This was a game that North Carolina couldn't lose. An opponent that Roy Williams felt would be a great opponent and matched well compared to the strength of schedule and competition. Northeastern is 9-7 overall.
The Huskies are in second place in the Colonial Athletic Association, a game behind JMU, with an 8-2 record. But there was something bigger at play for Williams and company; it was the chance to play at the Dean Dome finally.
North Carolina showcased strength and consistency against Northeastern. Four players scored in double figures, Day'ron Sharpe, Kerwin Walton, Garrison Brooks, and Walker Kessler, and two players close with nine points. But it was UNC's assists that carry the weight of their win, the perimeter combined with 17 out of 20; Heels are 9-3 this season when they have more assists than turnovers.
Post UNC's win, Williams went in-depth about the importance of playing at home and the lack of equity they experienced.
"We have six home games before today out of 19. And that's not it's not equitable. It's not fair."
Carolina is 12-7 overall, 7-5 in the ACC. This is UNC's first non-conference opponent since defeating Kentucky in Cleveland on December 19th and their first home game since January 23rd. Carolina has played only six of its 19 games at home this season, the fewest of any school in the ACC - Boston College and Wake Forest have played seven; nine schools have played ten or more.
The Heels have played each of its last four games on the road. That was the first time UNC played four straight, true ACC road games in one season since 1964.
Carolina had five non-conference games canceled before the season began as the NCAA limited schedules to 27 games. Those included home games against UNC Asheville, UNC-W, and Loyola (Md.) and games at Hawaii and Monmouth.
"Some say home-court is not a factor -That's BS. You're used to shooting in your gym, sleeping in your bed, and you're eating the meals that you always eat," Williams said, "The whole thing that's going on right now (COVID), I feel a heck of a lot safer coming here to play then I do getting on the plane going somewhere else."
North Carolina has four remaining games with three in Chapel Hill, but with Louisville's recent pause due to COVID protocols, Saturday's game is possibly in jeopardy. Boston College was an opponent scheduled for Tuesday, but again, a delay in the program due to COVID, but Williams is willing to do whatever is necessary to make sure games are played in Chapel Hill.
"If we have to go on Twitter again, I'm going try to find another home game."