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UNC Basketball: Tar Heels’ non-conference schedule features tough tests

Carolina will have their work cut out for them early on in 2018.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Charlotte Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Carolina released their non-conference basketball schedule for 2018-2019 yesterday, preparing fans for what should be an exciting season in Chapel Hill. It’s no surprise that the non-conference slate features tough tests that Roy Williams always seems to use to prepare his teams for the competition of ACC play that follows.

Following an exhibition game against Mount Olive, UNC opens their season on the road at Wofford. There is still a bitter taste in the mouths of Tar Heel fans following the Terriers coming into the Dean Dome and knocking off what was a Top 5 team at the time. Carolina will be looking to enact some revenge for that game when they travel to Spartanburg on November 6th. Roy and his team have their second-straight road game to start the year when they travel to Elon to open the Phoenix’s new arena.

Jerod Haase brings his Stanford team to Chapel Hill on November 12 after Carolina went out to play them in California last season. C.B. McGrath will be visiting the Dean Dome with his UNCW squad on December 5. Roy always makes time for teams with coaches from the Carolina family, and these are just more examples of that. Tennessee Tech and St. Francis also visit Chapel Hill as part of the Las Vegas Invitational before UNC heads out west for the remainder of the tournament over Thanksgiving. Michigan State, Texas, and UCLA will also be taking part in the tournament, and the pairings for that will be announced this summer.

There will be a rematch of the 2017 National Championship game in Chapel Hill in December when Gonzaga comes to play UNC. It’ll be the fourth meeting between the two schools, and hopefully it goes exactly the way the third one did, with the exception of much lower stakes this time around. UNC will take on Kentucky in Chicago at the 5th annual CBS Sports Classic. The last time these two teams met was the Luke Maye game that sent Carolina to the Final Four on their way to their 2017 championship.

The ACC/Big 10 challenge will take place November 26-28. Carolina will be on the road for that matchup, and the team they draw for the challenge will be released at a later date. To round out the non-con schedule, Davidson will visit Chapel Hill on December 29 and Harvard will be in the Dean Dome on January 2 before the Heels begin ACC play the following weekend.

There are definitely some challenging matchups here! Playing Kentucky and Gonzaga, as well as whoever the draw is for the Las Vegas Invitational, is certainly no cake walk. However, we all know that Roy uses these games to build his team for what is to come. The Heels will absolutely have the talent to win these games, and it will prepare them for difficult conference games, as well as the NCAA Tournament.

We’ve all seen the pitfalls of scheduling cupcake teams for non-conference games (cough cough) and that’s just not Roy’s style. The good news is that this should provide us with some quality games to watch early on in the season with a team that should be really exciting.