Notre Dame-North Carolina moved to Greensboro on Sunday

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

RALEIGH, N.C. – For the first time in 18 seasons, a Notre Dame men’s basketball game will not be played at its scheduled date and time.

Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference game between No. 20 Notre Dame and No. 12 North Carolina, scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, was postponed following a water-main break of 1.5 million gallons of water in the towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill on Friday afternoon.

Notre Dame and North Carolina will play Sunday at 1 p.m. at the 23,000-seat Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum, which is located approximately 51 miles west on Interstate 40 from Chapel Hill.

The game will be televised by ESPNews.

The self-described “loosest coach in America” took news of the switch in stride.

"We don't run any set plays, so we are always flexible," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said in a university press release early Friday evening.

History was made the last time the teams played at Greensboro Coliseum. Notre Dame captured the ACC tournament championship on March 14, 2015 with a 90-82 victory over North Carolina.

Notre Dame is 3-1 all-time in Greensboro Coliseum. North Carolina is 115-30.

The water-main break forced Mayor Pam Hemminger to declare a state of emergency in Chapel Hill. City officials won’t know until late Sunday at the earliest if the area’s tap water can be used safely. Schools and businesses were closed Friday afternoon. North Carolina officials closed campus around 1 p.m. Friday. Staff members were encouraged to leave campus as soon as possible.

North Carolina moved its practice to nearby Durham and spent Friday night in the town, located about nine miles from campus.

Notre Dame received word on how serious the situation was down in Orange County, N.C., just as the Irish were finishing practice Friday afternoon. The Irish traveling party was scheduled to fly to North Carolina early Friday evening, but remained in northern Indiana.

Notre Dame plans to fly to Greensboro late Saturday morning.

The switch means the Irish will play three critical league games in seven days. Notre Dame hosts Wake Forest on Tuesday and No. 15 Florida State on Saturday.

North Carolina (20-4; 8-2) plays the first of two rivalry games with Duke on Thursday.

The Irish (17-6; 6-4 ACC) head to the Triad losers of their last three and four of their last five league games.

ESPN color commentator Dick Vitale, who was scheduled to call Saturday’s game, instead checked into a Raleigh-Durham International Airport area hotel just before 5 p.m. Friday. He had no idea if he’d be working this weekend or headed home to Florida after just arriving from Los Angeles.

Vitale will call Sunday's game with Dave O'Brien and sideline reporter Allison Williams.

This is the second time this season that North Carolina has had a home game postponed. The Jan. 7 game against North Carolina State was pushed back one day because of an ice storm in the area.

North Carolina won by 51 points the next day.

Saturday marks the first time since Jan. 2, 1999 that a regularly-scheduled Notre Dame game has been postponed. Notre Dame was scheduled to host Pittsburgh at the old Joyce Center that day, but a snowstorm that dumped 18 inches of snow across South Bend postponed that game to Jan. 5.

Notre Dame won that game 87-74.

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Matt Farrell and Notre Dame were supposed to play at North Carolina on Saturday, but that game has been moved to Sunday in Greensboro after a water emergency in the Chapel Hill area. (AP Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)