In losing their first game of the season, UNC looked at least a little rattled by the atmosphere against Indiana. While it certainly wasn’t all down to the that, it was a factor. It’s not super surprising that any college team had trouble on the road against another really good team. It’s a thing that happens in college basketball.
Hopefully the Indiana game won’t be a sign of things to come on the road, but where else might Carolina face some difficulty away from home?
North Carolina will not play a true road game in the rest of the non-conference season. In fact, they’ll only play one game away from the Smith Center before starting ACC play on December 31st. Their game against Kentucky is in Las Vegas, and while that will be a tough task, it likely won’t be because of a totally hostile atmosphere.
Carolina opens conference play with two straight road games. After facing Georgia Tech in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve, the Tar Heels face Clemson a couple days later. Those two games should be winnable, but the Tigers are a solid team and could make that one interesting.
The next two road games are also winnable. UNC has lost to Wake Forest in Winston-Salem recently, but Carolina appears to be the better team this season. While UNC weirdly struggled there last season, the Tar Heels should absolutely beat Boston College on the road.
After that, the remaining road games for UNC are almost all tough. Just two days after a home game against Virginia Tech, Carolina has to go to Miami. The short turnaround plus travel might be something to watch out for.
The following two road games are at Duke and at NC State. Separated by six days, Carolina has to face their two biggest rivals away from home back-to-back. Both will be tough tasks for self-explanatory reasons.
UNC will then play their final two road games with another quick turnaround in between. At this stage, the Pitt game on February 25th looks to be the easiest road game of the final stretch. However, two days later, the Tar Heels have to play at Virginia.
Right now, North Carolina does not have a particularly big sample size of true road games. They played well in one: Tulane. They played average in one: Hawaii. And finally, they played poorly in one: Indiana.
If the Indiana game is a sign of things to come on the road, then Carolina could run into some trouble. They miss going to Louisville and Syracuse, but other than that, they will play almost every good ACC team on the road this season.
There’s no reason as of yet to think they won’t, but UNC will need to handle road big spots better the rest of the season.