• 66°

Heels aren’t only ones pursuing nonconference games to boost schedule

By Aaron Beard

AP Basketball Writer

North Carolina hasn’t been sitting around waiting to see if there will be time to reschedule its postponed Atlantic Coast Conference games.

The Tar Heels added — and won — a nonconference game last week against Northeastern, and they have another Wednesday against Marquette. Coach Roy Williams has been open about wanting to play as many games as possible to aid the development of a freshman-heavy team still working to solidify its NCAA Tournament hopes.

“It’s legal to have 27 regular-season games, I’d like to get 27 in,” Williams said.

“If you lose a game, we’re going to try to do everything we can to get the ACC games rescheduled. And if that doesn’t work, then there’s a lot of teams around the country that are like us, that don’t have as many games. So I think it’s good for kids to play.”

The Tar Heels (14-7, 8-5 ACC) had postponed home games against Clemson (Jan. 9) and No. 16 Virginia Tech (Feb. 16), along with Tuesday’s road game at Boston College, amid COVID-19 issues involving their opponents. There was also a last-minute postponement of the Feb. 8 home game against Miami, which followed the emergence of social media video showing Tar Heels players Armando Bacot and Day’Ron Sharpe mingling with other people celebrating a win against Duke and no one wearing a mask.

The Tar Heels aren’t alone in pursuing nonconference games. No. 12 Houston announced Sunday it would host Western Kentucky from Conference USA on Thursday, and it also added a game against NAIA program Our Lady of the Lake earlier this month (a 112-46 win).

But the Tar Heels have played more road games (nine) than home (eight), including just five of 13 league games at home. UNC, which also played four neutral-court games, is unbeaten at home.

“It helps us learn more about ourselves and things we’ve got to work on,” freshman guard Kerwin Walton said of adding games. “And I think we all can agree, every player in the nation could agree, that playing is way better than practicing.”

Last Wednesday’s 82-62 win against Northeastern from the Colonial Athletic Association filled a midweek opening for the Tar Heels following the Virginia Tech postponement. The BC postponement created another midweek opening ultimately filled by Marquette. It marks the first time in 32 years that UNC has played two regular-season nonconference games in February or March.

The timing worked, too, for the Golden Eagles (10-12, 6-10 Big East), who beat Butler last Wednesday but weren’t due to play again until visiting Connecticut on Saturday. Like Williams, Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski — who played and worked as an assistant coach against the Tar Heels while at rival Duke — is trying to play as many games as possible and put out feelers to see what options might be available.

“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Wojciechowski said. “It’s an opportunity that I think our guys are excited about. It’s an opportunity to play against a historic program. And because of the circumstances of the year, my feeling is: Why not take advantage of that?”

The Tar Heels dive back into ACC play on Saturday by hosting No. 11 Florida State, though Williams said UNC is still having “preliminary” conversations about potentially filling another opening next week.

Asked whether that included any potential rescheduled ACC games, Williams quipped: “We’re having discussions with anybody and everybody, and three different teams in the NBA as well.”



Council to discuss potential changes to Downtown Revitalization Incentive grant program


Public safety, city manager, economy: Mayoral candidates Alexander, Heggins discuss city’s biggest issues


Political Notebook: Rowan Democratic Party makes endorsements for municipal races


Spencer looking for big impact from new storefront grants

Granite Quarry

Election 2021: Granite Quarry’s new mayor will be a veteran or a newcomer

Ask Us

Ask Us: If I received my vaccine in another county, is it recorded in Rowan?


Young entrepreneur raises $1,000 for Rowan County United Way with lemonade stand


Election 2021: Candidates in East Spencer hoping to continue moving town forward


Election 2021: Candidates detail their visions, goals if elected to Salisbury City Council

China Grove

Election 2021: China Grove Town Council candidates detail approaches to handling economic, residential growth


Elect 2021: Four candidates competing for three seats in town of Cleveland


County hopes software will streamline foster home licensing process


Election 2021:Four vie for pair of seats on Granite Quarry board

High School

High school volleyball: Carson tops Mustangs again


Judge: No waiting on NC budget to act on school funding


2 more House Democrats retiring, underscoring 2022 obstacles


Man jailed for shooting at Davie detectives in Rowan County given $560,000 bond


County Commissioner Craig Pierce pleads guilty to driving while intoxicated


Overdose call turns into homicide investigation on Ted Lane


Court judgment requires occupants to vacate Gheen Road home, site of two murders


Blotter: Oct. 17


Bill Clinton back home after hospitalization from infection


Early voting creeps along as county holds first municipal voting on Sunday


5 killed in single-vehicle crash in Raleigh