At this point, if Carolina were to make the jump from the ACC to the B1G, would anyone notice?
On Thursday, the folks hosting the inaugural Jumpman Invitational announced the pairings for the December event. Carolina will face Michigan, the women play the Wolverines on December 20th while the men will play against them the next evening. Both games will be at 7 PM in Uptown (don’t say downtown) Charlotte.
The format is meant to showcase the men’s and women’s programs of all four schools, and as such the other two schools involved (Florida and Oklahoma) will play in the 9:30 games, but the men will play each other on the 20th while the women’s teams will follow up the UNC/Michigan men’s game on the 21st.
With the announcement, all of the blanks in UNC’s non-conference schedule announced a couple weeks ago are now filled in. The schedule came out without matchups named in the PK80, the Jumpman, and the CBS Sports Classic, and since then each of the other pairings have been announced. First, it was announced that Carolina would play Ohio State in this year’s CBS event over at Madison Square Garden. Then the PK80 laid out their brackets that saw Carolina starting out with Portland, their next game against Iowa State or Villanova, and then the third game would be against UConn, Oregon, Alabama, or Michigan State depending on results.
If that looks a little B1G heavy, then you’re not seeing things. With the addition of playing Indiana in Assembly Hall, Carolina has three guaranteed matchups against the conference with the Hoosiers, Ohio State, and Michigan. Add the possibility of Michigan State in the PK80, and the Tar Heels could play four games against that conference before they’d have played two against the ACC. It’s worth noting that in the ridiculously early Bracketology for 2023, ESPN has all four teams in the NCAA Tournament , though it appears at this moment the only team that’ll start the season ranked is Indiana.
Tickets for the Jumpman are not yet on sale; they are due to be released to the public in late September. Folks can head to jumpmaninvitational.com for more information and to sign up for updates.
It’s getting tough to see how Carolina will be able to get other marquee non-conference games in Chapel Hill. Carolina already committed to play in the Jumpman for a few season, the CBS Sports Classic was renewed till 2026, and the Tar Heels always play in some sort of feature tournament around Thanksgiving. You add in the fact that the Tar Heels deal with a twenty game ACC schedule, and you have to have some buy-in games against smaller schools, and that just doesn’t leave any room for any sort of home and home against a marquee program that isn’t tied into a neutral court showcase event. It’s frustrating as a fan, but at the same time these traveling neutral court shows allow fans all across the country to see the team without coming to Chapel Hill. We’ll see as time goes on if Hubert Davis tries to squeeze in one more non-conference home and home in years where the Thanksgiving showcases are only two games instead of three. In the meantime, this year’s non-conference slate sets up as a gauntlet before the conference season begins.