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The 2009-10 Basketball Schedule

The 2009-10 basketball schedule became public last week. Nothing really surprising since we already knew the important non-conference games as well as who would be on the ACC slate. Now we have dates.

UNC will open defense of its national title against Florida International on November 9th as a part of the 2K Sports Coaches vs Cancer Classic. At least that is the plan right now.  Apparently FIU and it's new coach Isiah Thomas, are in quite the tiff with the tournament organizers over playing UNC instead of Ohio St. to open the season.  Apparently, FIU was under the impression they would open against the Buckeyes even though their contract indicated it could be either OSU or UNC.  For whatever reason Thomas and his AD want no part of playing the Heels in Chapel Hill which really does not make much sense.  It is not like FIU has any better chance versus OSU as opposed to UNC.  Sure the Heels are defending champions and in theory should be a better team than OSU but as Robbi Pickeral pointed out, we are talking about losing by 15 versus 25 in all likelihood.  Maybe because the game is happening November 9th, FIU reasons that OSU fans still won't be paying attention since it is in the middle of football season.

At any rate, UNC has a tough row to hoe with Larry Drew and the freshman leaping right into the fire from the very start.  UNC will play Ohio State in the semifinals of the Coaches vs Cancer Classic and then could draw Syracuse or Cal in Madison Square Garden, a stiff challenge, especially if it is the Orangemen.  December will include games versus Michigan St, at Kentucky and two weeks later versus Texas at the Dallas Cowboys new arena. The toughest aspect of the conference schedule is closing with four of six on the road.  In fact six of the last ten games are on the road with dates at Virginia Tech and Maryland in succession, home to Duke and NC State back-to-back followed by GT and BC on the road. The final two weeks of the season has UNC at home to FSU, at Wake Forest, home to Miami and at Duke.  The upside to that final stretch is UNC does not have to travel far for their last two road games.  The downside is sandwiching Duke and NCSU at home between VT-MD and GT-BC is a lot to ask.  Needless to say the younger players will be put to the test.

Overall it is a stout schedule and if UNC escapes the regular season with five or fewer losses, it will mean they could be in line for a #1 seed or at worst a #2 in the NCAA Tournament.