The day has finally arrive: the ACC released the 2020-21 basketball schedule, meaning that we are just a couple of weeks from UNC attempting to get redemption from last year’s disaster. The season kicks off for the Tar Heels on November 25th when they take on Charleston, and will end on March 6th when they take on Duke.
One notable change to this season’s schedule is that aside from the Maui Invitational, ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and the CBS Sports Classic, the only non-conference game that the Tar Heels will play is against Elon. This is due to the modifications the ACC had to make thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the shorter schedule, there are more than enough interesting games on the schedule. Let’s go through a few key matchups this season. But first, here is the complete schedule via Carolina basketball’s Twitter:
SCHEDULE RELEASE— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) November 10, 2020
Maximum 2️⃣7️⃣ game slate ➡ 7️⃣ Non-Conference ➕ 2️⃣0️⃣ ACC
Details : https://t.co/3tX3MXAkYC#CarolinaFamily pic.twitter.com/HF87753seE
UNC @ Iowa
Does anybody remember the last time these two teams played? If you don’t, you are a fortunate soul. The last time these two teams squared off was on December 5th, 2014 in the Dean Smith Center. Carolina went into the game ranked as the 12th-best team in the country, and they had an absolutely horrid shooting night. They finished the game shooting 27.9% from the field and made just 17.4% of their three-point attempts. The worst part? The Hawkeyes weren’t much better, making 32.7% of their field goals and 15% of their three-point attempts. Needless to say, it was nightmare fuel in its purest form, but also we unfortunately saw even more of that in the 2019-20 season.
Fast forward to 2020, and things look extremely different for both teams. Iowa will open the season ranked as the fifth(!!!) best team in the country, with Carolina trailing behind in the rankings at 16th. It will not be the most ideal situation for the Heels to enter following the Maui Invitational, but a win against the Hawkeyes would be a huge deal. How often do we get to say that about a team in Iowa? Not often, but in the year of our Lord 2020 weird is becoming the new normal.
UNC @ NC State
The last time Carolina took on NC State this early in the schedule was during the 2005-06 season. This will also be the third year in a row that this home-and-home series will start at PNC Arena in Raleigh. The Heels came away with the victory in both of the previous occasions.
Speaking of UNC coming away with the victory, the Tar Heels are currently on a five-game winning streak against the Wolfpack. The last time Carolina lost to State was on January 28, 2018 when the Wolfpack managed to eek out a win in overtime. This streak also is the longest streak that UNC has been on against NC State since their 13-game win streak was ended in January of 2013. Will they be able to pull off a sweep this year and keep the streak going, or will Kevin Keatts finally figure out a way to best Roy Williams? We will find out on December 22nd.
UNC @ Virginia (again)
Alright, someone really has to make this stop. Somehow UNC will be traveling to Charlottesville yet again to take on the Virginia Cavaliers. This will be the fifth time that Carolina plays them on the road since 2015, which was the only calendar year in which they only played the Hoos at home. It’s an absurd, maddening trend that I will never understand, but regardless, it will be yet another challenge for a team coming off of a rough 2019-20 campaign.
If there is an upside to be found, it is that UNC will only have to deal with Virginia in the regular season one time. Even better, this game will take place February 13th, which is much later than the season-opening game that the two had against each other last season. This should give this young team time to gel and hopefully arrive in Charlottesville ready to pack a punch, but as we all know when it comes to facing off against Virginia, it’s never quite that easy.
Aside from these three notable games, there really isn’t anything else worth noting on the schedule. NC State aside, Carolina will face off against Miami, Clemson, Florida State, Syracuse, and Duke both at home and on the road. Not the worst draw in the home-and-home lottery, but after what happened last year, I doubt there’s going to be an “easy win” game on this schedule in anybody’s mind. We all know Roy Williams is hopping mad and is reminding the team of what happened every chance that he has. Let’s hope that it makes a huge impact on how the season plays out.
What are your thoughts on Carolina’s schedule? Let us know in the comments below.