UNC hunting for the best home finish in school history

As the No. 5 team in the country, North Carolina isn’t far off meeting preseason expectations that tabbed the Tar Heels as favorites to win the ACC and one of the favorites to win the national title.

With less than three weeks left in the regular season, Roy Williams’ group controls its destiny in the conference standings, and it could also contend for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament next month.

Before UNC has a chance to solidify any of that, however, the team is looking to reach another goal that’s been a focus all season.

“We’ve got to protect our home court,” senior Marcus Paige said following the Heels’ 85-64 win over Pitt on Sunday. “We want to go undefeated at home this year, so the biggest order for us right now is to protect our home court.”

Going into its home matchup against Duke on Wednesday, North Carolina holds a 13-0 record this season in the Dean E. Smith Center. A victory over the Blue Devils would represent one more step toward an undefeated record in Chapel Hill, and a 16-0 finish at home would be the best in school history.

Five years have passed since the last time UNC went undefeated in its own arena. In the more recent instances the program accomplished that feat, it often meant the team was on the verge making a run in the Big Dance.