By R.L. Bynum
North Carolina faces a demanding ACC men’s basketball schedule as the Tar Heels try to follow up last season’s run to the NCAA tournament championship game.
The schedule, which the ACC released Tuesday, opens at the Smith Center on Monday, Nov. 7 against UNCW, with the first league game on Sunday, Dec. 4 at reigning ACC champion Virginia Tech. It will be the fourth time in the last five seasons that Carolina has opened ACC play on the road. This is the fourth consecutive season that each team will play 20 conference games.
Coach Hubert Davis’ team, coming off a 29–10 season that included an East Regional title, is expected to be near the top of the polls and is No. 1 in the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook ranking. Four starters are back, including All-America big man Armando Bacot, fifth-year senior wing and defensive ace Leaky Black and junior guards RJ Davis and Caleb Love.
“Live Action with Carolina Basketball” is set for Friday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. (the night before the home football game against Virginia Tech) and the Tar Heels face Johnson C. Smith in an exhibition game Friday, Oct. 28 (the night before the home football game against Pittsburgh).
The first Duke game will be on Saturday, Feb. 4 in Durham in the first matchup with Jon Scheyer as head coach after UNC ended Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching career with a loss in the national semifinals. That is the weekend between the NFL conference championship games and the Super Bowl. The Chapel Hill game is set for Saturday, March 4.
The game at N.C. State on Feb. 19 is the day after the Carolina Hurricanes’ Stadium Series game next door in Carter-Finley Stadium against the Washington Capitals.
Although the Tar Heels face N.C. State (which finished 15th in the ACC last season, Jan. 21 and Feb. 19) and Pittsburgh (13th, Dec. 30 or 31 and Feb. 1) twice, they also meet four of the top-six finishers twice: Duke (1st), Notre Dame (3rd, Jan. 7 and Feb. 22), Wake Forest (5th, Jan 4 and Feb. 7) and Virginia (6th, Jan. 10 and Feb. 26).
The four teams Carolina only plays on the road (an average finish of 8.75) are a little more challenging than the four teams it will only face at home (10.0).
The Tar Heels welcome Miami (4th place finish in the ACC last season, Feb. 13), Clemson (10th, Feb. 11), Boston College (12th, Jan. 17), and Georgia Tech (14th, Dec. 10) to the Smith Center and only meet Virginia Tech (7th), Florida State (8th, Feb. 27), Syracuse (9th, Jan. 24) and Louisville (11th, Jan. 14) on the road.
The Tar Heels play three more nonconference home games in November — Friday, Nov. 11 against College of Charleston, Tuesday, Nov. 15 against Gardner-Webb and Sunday, Nov. 20 against James Madison — before playing three games in Portland Nov. 24–27 in the PK1 bracket of the Phil Knight Invitational.
At the PK Invitational, UNC faces Portland on Thanksgiving Day at 1 p.m. (ESPN) in the first round. The Tar Heels then meet Iowa State or Villanova on Friday, Nov. 25, in a consolation (3 p.m., ESPN2) or — most likely — semifinal (5:30 p.m., ESPN) game. The championship game is Sunday, Nov. 27 at 10 p.m. (ESPN), with the consolation game at 3:30 p.m. (ESPN).
Duke is in the Phil Knight Legacy bracket and Carolina is in the PK1 women’s bracket, facing Oregon at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day (ESPNU) and either Iowa State or Michigan State in the consolation (1 p.m., ESPN2) or championship game (7:30 p.m., ESPN2) on Sunday, Nov. 27.
After Carolina’s men play an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game at Indiana on Wednesday, Nov. 30, the league opener against the Hokies is Sunday, Dec. 4. Following a Dec. 10 home game against Georgia Tech, the Heels play a Tuesday, Dec. 13 home game against The Citadel. Next, the Heels play Ohio State at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17 in the CBS Classic at Madison Square Garden and Michigan at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21 at the Jumpman Invitational in Charlotte.
Starting with the game at Pittsburgh on either Dec. 30 or 31, the rest of the regular season will be all league contests.
|7||Friday||7:30||Live Action with |
|28||Friday||7:30||Johnson C. Smith (Exhibition)||Home||ACCNX (ESPN3)|
|11||Friday||7 p.m.||College of Charleston||Home||RSN|
|Phil Knight Invitational|
|25||Friday||3 or 5:30||Iowa State or Villanova||Portland||ESPN or ESPNU|
|27||Sunday||TBA||UConn, Oregon, Alabama or Michigan State||Portland||TBA|
|ACC/Big Ten Challenge|
|4||Sunday||3 p.m.||Virginia Tech||Blacksburg, Va.||ACCN|
|13||Tuesday||7 p.m.||The Citadel||Home||ESPN2|
|CBS Sports Classic|
|17||Saturday||3 p.m.||Ohio State||New York||CBS|
|30 or 31||Friday or Saturday||TBA||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||ACCN|
|4||Wednesday||9 p.m.||Wake Forest||Home||ACCN|
|7||Saturday||11:30 a.m.||Notre Dame||Home||ESPN2|
|10||Tuesday||9 p.m.||Virginia||Charlottesville||ESPN or ESPN2|
|14||Saturday||2 p.m.||Louisville||Louisville, Ky.||ESPN|
|17||Tuesday||7 p.m.||Boston College||Home||RSN|
|21||Saturday||5 p.m.||N.C. State||Home||ACCN|
|24||Tuesday||9 p.m.||Syracuse||Syracuse, N.Y.||ESPN|
|7||Tuesday||7 p.m.||Wake Forest||Winston-Salem||ESPN or ESPN2|
|11||Saturday||2 p.m.||Clemson||Home||ESPN or ESPN2|
|19||Sunday||1 p.m.||N.C. State||Raleigh||ESPN|
|22||Wednesday||9 p.m.||Notre Dame||South Bend, Ind.||ESPN or ESPN2|
|25||Saturday||6 or 8||Virginia||Home||ESPN|
|27||Monday||7 p.m.||Florida State||Tallahassee, Fla.||ESPN|
|4||Saturday||6 or 6:30||Duke||Home||ESPN|
Photo via @UNC_Basketball