Luke DeCock of Raleigh’s News & Observer reports:
Under normal circumstances, North Carolina’s unexpected trip to the Greensboro Coliseum on Sunday would have been a precursor to the Tar Heels beginning the NCAA tournament next month on the same floor, where they have enjoyed such success in the past.
The Tar Heels’ 7-0 NCAA record here is one of so many deep ties to this building, for both North Carolina and Notre Dame. The Irish won the 2015 ACC tournament here by beating the Tar Heels, who have won eight of their 18 ACC titles in Greensboro. Among arenas, only Reynolds Coliseum can claim as revered a place in the history of the conference as this one.
But this will be North Carolina’s only game in this building this season, thanks to House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill. Those opening-weekend NCAA games will be played instead in Greenville, S.C. The ACC tournament, scheduled to return in 2020, is in jeopardy as well.
“You know, I’m glad that some people in Greensboro got to see us play,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “I’m glad we were able to take a game here because of that stupid rule that we have in our state that took a lot of great opportunities for people in our state, and great athletes that like to do things in our state. I shouldn’t say rule, I guess it’s a law. A law’s more important than a rule, I guess. But I just think that’s ridiculous, and what it’s doing to our state and the reputation of our state.”
DeCock concludes this way:
…It was also, potentially, the last ACC game ever played in Greensboro, assuming HB2 continues to hang over the state like a toxic cloud. At the pace repeal is proceeding, the building will crumble to dust before the conference has a chance to return. While the next five years of NCAA events within the state’s borders are in day-to-day danger, the 2019 (Charlotte) and 2020 ACC tournaments will be in the same tenuous position in a month or two.
With HB2, there are obviously bigger issues with civil and human rights than basketball, but this kind of game, in this building, epitomized what basketball means to North Carolina. Instead of celebrating that tradition Sunday, we may have been bidding it farewell for the foreseeable future.