By R.L. Bynum
Along with the high expectations for North Carolina’s women’s basketball team will come an upgrade in the Tar Heels’ schedule for this season.
UNC, likely a top-10 pick in preseason polls, starts the season at home on Wednesday, Nov. 9 against Jackson State and opens ACC play at home on Dec. 29 against Florida State. Five of the 11 non-conference opponents are Power Five conference schools.
Coach Courtney Banghart’s fourth season comes after the Tar Heels went 25–7 and earned the program’s first Sweet 16 berth since 2015, which has helped boost the sale of season tickets, which can be purchased here. UNC returns junior starters in guards Deja Kelly and Kennedy Todd-Williams, wing Alyssa Ustby and center Anya Poole.
The Tar Heels also add significant talent in red-shirt freshmen Teonni Key, a forward, and Kayla McPherson, a guard, who both missed last season while recovering from torn ACLs, as well as true freshman guard Paulina Paris.
“The ACC schedule being released means we’re that much closer to the season being underway,” Banghart said. “We are honored to play in the best basketball conference in the country. The match-ups are steeped in tradition and rivalry, and there’s never an off night. The preparation is underway in Carmichael!”
While ACC men’s teams play 20 conference games, women’s teams only play 18.
UNC, of course, plays three-time reigning ACC champion N.C. State twice. The rivals meet at Carmichael Arena on Jan. 15 and in Raleigh on Feb. 16. The Duke games are in Carmichael on Jan. 19 and in Durham to finish the regular season on Feb. 26.
The home game against Wake Forest on Sunday, Feb. 19, is the same day that the UNC men’s team plays at N.C. State but game times for both have not been announced. The men’s game likely would have been played on Saturday, Feb. 28, if not for the Carolina Hurricanes playing the Washington Capitals in the Stadium Series game at Carter-Finley Stadium that day.
Carolina’s women’s team plays at James Madison on Nov. 20, the same day that the Dukes’ men’s team plays at the Smith Center.
The UNC women only play perennial national powers Louisville (on road Feb. 5) and Notre Dame (at home on Jan. 8) once each. They face Virginia Tech twice, traveling to Blacksburg on New Year’s Day, with the Hokies coming to Carmichael on Feb. 23. UNC also takes on Virginia twice (Jan. 12 in Charlottesville and Feb. 2 at Carmichael).
Read about the humble beginnings of the Carolina women’s basketball programs, from coaches driving teams to games to playing and practicing in a dangerously gym, the program has come a long way. Learn interesting stories about the program in this Tar Heel Tribune story.
Carolina plays in three of the same events in the same cities as the men’s team.
Both play in the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, with the women meeting Oregon at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day (ESPNU) in the four-team event. The Tar Heels will play against either Iowa State or Michigan State in the consolation game (1 p.m., ESPN2) or the championship game (7:30 p.m., ESPN2) on Sunday, Nov. 27.
Both play at Indiana in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with the women’s team facing the Hoosiers on Thursday, Dec. 1, one day after the men’s teams meet.
Both play Michigan in the Jumpman Invitational in Charlotte at the Hornets’ arena. The women face the Wolverines at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20, one day before the men’s teams play.
|9||Wednesday||W, 91–59||Jackson State||Home||1–0|
|16||Wednesday||W, 93–25||South Carolina State||Home||3–0|
|20||Sunday||W, 76–65||James Madison||Harrisonburg, Va.||4–0|
|Phil Knight Invitational|
|27||Sunday||W, 73–64||No. 21 Iowa State||Portland||6–0|
|December||ACC/Big Ten Challenge|
|1||Thursday||L, 87–63||No. 2Indiana||Bloomington, Ind.||6–1|
|16||Friday||W, 89–47||USC Upstate||Home||9–1|
|20||Tuesday||L, 76–68||No. 12 Michigan||Charlotte||9–2|
|ACC season begins|
|29||Thursday||L, 78–71||No. 19 |
|Home||9–3, 0–1 ACC|
|1||Sunday||L, 68–65||No. 11 |
|Blacksburg, Va.||9–4, 0–2 ACC|
|5||Thursday||L, 62–58||Miami||Coral Gables, Fla.||9–5, 0–3 ACC|
|8||Sunday||W, 60–50||No. 10 |
|12||Thursday||W, 70–59||Virginia||Charlottesville, Va.||11–5, |
|15||Sunday||W, 56–47||No. 22 N.C. State||Home||12–5, |
|19||Thursday||W, 61–56||No. 9 Duke||Home||13–5, |
|22||Sunday||W, 70–57||Georgia Tech||Home||14–5, |
|26||Thursday||W, 72–57||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||15–5, |
|29||Sunday||W, 69–58||Clemson||Clemson||16–5, |
|2||Thursday||W, 73–62||Virginia||Home||17–5, |
|5||Sunday||L, 62–55||Louisville||Louisville||17–6, |
|9||Thursday||7 p.m.||Syracuse||Syracuse||ACCNX (ESPN3)|
|12||Sunday||Noon||Boston College||Home||ACCNX (ESPN3)|
|16||Thursday||8 p.m.||No. 22 N.C. State||Raleigh||ACCN|
|19||Sunday||4 p.m.||Wake Forest||Home||ACCN|
|23||Thursday||8 p.m.||No. 11 |
|26||Sunday||Noon||No. 9 Duke||Durham||RSNs|
|1–5||Wednesday–Sunday||TBA||TBA||Greensboro||ACCN Wed.-Sat.; final on ESPN or ESPN2|
Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications