By R.L. Bynum
Coming off a Sweet 16 appearance last season, North Carolina’s women’s basketball team faces a challenging nonconference schedule that includes two opponents who also made it that far in last season’s NCAA tournament.
The Tar Heels (25–7, finishing No. 6 in the NET rankings last season) open at home on Nov. 9 against Jackson State (23–7, No. 85), which won the SWAC and made the NCAA tournament.
“Our nonconference schedule was created in an effort to challenge us against teams from all across the country, versus a variety of styles of play and in unique environments before the gauntlet of the ACC,” said Coach Courtney Banghart, who enters her fourth season as UNC head coach.
UNC will potentially play four teams that won 20 games last season but also will meet three teams at home that won six or fewer games a year ago. The Tar Heels could potentially face four teams that finished in the top 18 in the final NET rankings but will meet six teams that were 160 or lower.
Of the 11 nonconference games, five are at Carmichael Arena, three are on the opponents’ home courts and three are at neutral sites. Of the Five Power Five nonconference opponents, only the Nov. 12 TCU game will be at home. That game is the same day as UNC’s football game at Wake Forest (times for neither game has been announced).
After the game against the Horned Frogs (6–22, No. 160), Carolina meets South Carolina State (4–25) in a Nov. 16 game on a Wednesday afternoon that is geared for local school kids. The Bulldogs were No. 354 out of 356 in the final NET rankings.
UNC then hits the road for four consecutive games, visiting James Madison (14–15, No. 177) on Nov. 20 before heading to Portland for the Phil Knight Invitational. There, Carolina plays Oregon (20–12, No. 13) on Nov. 24 and either Iowa State (28–7, No. 10) or Michigan State (15–15, No. 71) on Nov. 27.
The same day that the women’s team visits James Madison, the Dukes’ men’s team will be playing UNC’s men in the Smith Center. That’s the only time that the men’s and women’s teams will play on the same day during nonconference play outside of the Phil Knight Invitational.
On Dec. 1, Carolina visits Indiana (24–9, No. 18) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Hoosiers also made the Sweet 16 last season. The UNC men’s team faces the Hoosiers in Bloomington, Ind., in the same arena the night before on Nov. 30.
After home games on Dec. 7 against UNCW (3–26, No. 334) and Dec. 11 against Wofford (17–14, No. 231), Carolina visits North Carolina A&T (14–15, No. 229) on Dec. 16.
The Seahawks are under interim coach Tina Martin after UNCW fired the previous head coach, Karen Barefoot, in mid-February.
UNC finishes nonconference play on Dec. 20 in Charlotte at the Jumpman Invitational in the Charlotte Hornets’ arena. The Tar Heels face Michigan (25–7, No. 17), who made the Elite Eight last season. The UNC men’s team faces the Wolverines the next night on Dec. 21 in the same event and the same arena.
The ACC schedule will be released later.
|Nov. 9 (Wednesday)||7 p.m.||Home||Jackson State||Chapel Hill|
|Nov. 12 (Saturday)||TBA||Home||TCU||Chapel Hill|
|Nov. 16 (Wednesday)||TBA||Home||South Carolina State||Chapel Hill|
|Nov. 20 (Sunday)||TBA||Away||James Madison||Harrisonburg, Va.|
|Nov. 24 (Thursday)||5 p.m. ET||Neutral||Oregon||Portland, Ore.||ESPNU||Phil Knight Invitational|
|Nov. 27 (Sunday)||1 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. ET||Neutral||Iowa State or Michigan State||Portland, Ore.||ESPN2||Phil Knight Invitational|
|Dec. 1 (Thursday)||TBA||Away||Indiana||Bloomington, Ind.||ACC/Big Ten Challenge|
|Dec. 7 (Wednesday)||TBA||Home||UNCW||Chapel Hill|
|Dec. 11 (Sunday)||TBA||Home||Wofford||Chapel Hill|
|Dec. 16 (Friday)||TBA||Away||N.C. A&T||Greensboro|
|Dec. 20 (Tuesday)||7 p.m.||Neutral||Michigan||Charlotte||Jumpman Invitational|
Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications