Does the tournament schedule favor the Heels?
I actually think it does. How much that is worth to them in a game is anyone’s guess but I like the setup for them and I also love it as a fan.
UNC played on Friday and Sunday in the first round and now are slated for a Thursday and Saturday regional. Given the fact UNC normally plays a game about every 2-4 days going from Sunday to Thursday with only the three days in between should help keep them in some sort of rhythm. So I imagine that UNC did little or no practice on Monday, did a full practice on Tuesday before departing for Charlotte. Since it is only a 2.5 hour bus ride down there they get to arrive, go to the hotel and on Wednesday morning practice again at some offsite location before showing up to do the NCAA mandated practice and press conference at Bobcat Arena. The extra day disrupts the normal routine a bit but for the most part it is largely intact thanks in part to the proximity of the regional to Chapel Hill. As for the game time, I have to believe playing at 7:27 PM which is close to when your games have been all season is a benefit as well.
Last season was a nightmare schedule in my opinion. The Heels played Thursday/Saturday in the first two rounds. They had the 10 PM game on Thursday then the last game of the day on Saturday versus Michigan State. Then the NCAA pushed them into a Friday/Sunday regional which put a full five days between their games and on top of that UNC had to play the late game on Friday night followed by the last game on Sunday. In the end, none of this probably mattered to them but as a fan it was annoying as heck.
This season, the schedule is much better for both fan and team. I like the fact they play the next game so quickly and it is the early game on Thursday so I do not have to be awake until 2 AM trying to calm down from watching the Heels play. And I do not enjoy waiting for as long as we had to wait last season to see the Heels play. Five days does not seem like much but when you followed UNC winning on Sat. with the full slate of Sunday games and then the full slate of Thursday games followed by the early games on Friday I was pretty close to pulling my hair out.
Of course this will likely have little bearing on how UNC plays but given momentum has to be recreated with every new site. That being said playing close to home and along the lines of your normal routine should be of some help and in the NCAA Tournament the little things can make all the difference.