Signs of college basketball inching ever closer are appearing everywhere. The first summer practice is in the books, Dawson Garcia is now on campus after announcing his transfer to UNC last week, and you can’t spit on social media without hitting a UNC alumnus posting photos of them working out with the current team.
Another sign basketball is closer: the non-conference schedule has been buttoned up.
After a shortened 2020-21 season, it’s nice to see a schedule full of non-conference opponents. Let’s dive into a few things with this schedule:
- The schedule is a tough one in the sense that it currently features four teams in NCAA.com’s preseason top 10, although Carolina might only play three of them. Purdue comes in at #7, Villanova comes in at #5, Michigan is #9, and, oh yeah, UCLA is preseason #1.
- The good news is that none of those games are pure road games. Purdue and possibly Villanova will be with the Tar Heels in Uncasville, Connecticut for the Hall of Fame tipoff. UCLA will be at the CBS Sports Classic in yet another neutral court game, and Michigan will be a home game in the ACC/B1G challenge.
- With the potential for four top non-conference matchups, it’s not a surprise the rest of the schedule isn’t as...challenging. The only true road game for the Tar Heels will be at College of Charleston before they travel to Connecticut. Every other game is in the Smith Center, and besides Michigan, those games should be easier games.
- The article in the tweet mentions that the ACC has told UNC they’ll be playing in conference action the first weekend of December, and with the first exhibition game being on November 5th and then the first real game happening November 9th, it would appear that the “open with a conference team” deal we saw a couple seasons ago was just a one-season only deal to try and force cable operators to carry the ACC Network. It worked for almost everyone, but there are signs it won’t be needed for this year, and it has to be a relief for all coaches to not have to deal with the conference first.
- It’s easy to criticize Davis for the lack of true road games, but the fact is that with a 20-game ACC schedule and two neutral site commitments, the room for anything outside that is small. Add to this all of the lost revenue from the COVID season, plus a team with, let’s say, a high number of new faces, and you quickly understand why Davis and the staff would choose to stay at home as much as possible. That said, they are still taking a game a mid-major on the road with College of Charleston, even more of a rarity from teams in Power Five conferences.
- This will be the first time since the national title season that Carolina will play seven non-conference home games, and that season included the Maui Invitational that provided an extra neutral site game.
- The recent tour of the Ivy League continues with Brown on the schedule. The Tar Heels have played Harvard and Yale in recent years, and one wonders if the plan is to cycle through the rest of the League.
- The site for this year’s CBS Sports Classic hasn’t been determined yet. Pure speculation here, but you probably won’t see a site until at least the NHL schedule is out next week, and more likely not until after the NBA Schedule is also out. Events are just now getting back up and running, but buildings during those dates have to bow to their primary tenants, and with professional clubs looking to get ticket revenue back they likely want to block off as little as possible.
- Note that the latest non-conference home game is December 21st, so that means the rest of the ACC slate is going to start before the calendar turns to 2022.
We’ll see what the rest of the slate looks like before too long, one can imagine the ACC doesn’t want the rest of the basketball schedule to be overshadowed by football. Once that comes out we’ll be able to analyze in full, until then, start planning your trips now!