After a 25-7 season and the first Sweet 16 trip since 2015, the 2022-23 season has the potential to be a very interesting one for the North Carolina Tar Heels women’s basketball team. With the exception of Carlie Littlefield, UNC will return everyone who played over 10 minutes per game last year, including leading scorers Deja Kelly. Alyssa Utsby, and Kennedy Todd-Williams. Add in top 30 recruit in freshman Paulina Paris and a developing sophomore class that includes three former top 20 recruits, and it’s clear that coach Courtney Banghart is build a very nice program.
This has the potential to be a very exciting season for UNC, and some more excitement built up on Wednesday with the release of the non-conference schedule for the coming season.
Carolina will open up the year at home at Carmichael Arena against Jackson State on November 9th. However as always, the most interesting games will come in the matchups against the other Power 5 conference opponents.
Along with the men, the Tar Heels will also be headed out to Portland to compete in the Phil Knight Invitational over Thanksgiving week. They’re set to open against Oregon on November 24th, and will then play one of Michigan State or Iowa State a few days later on the 27th. The Ducks were, along with UNC, a #5 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament, but were upset by Belmont in the first round. However, Oregon has recently been a Final Four-caliber program, having made it there and 2019 and might have again in 2020 were it not for COVID. Meanwhile, Iowa State was a #3 seed in UNC’s bracket and fell on the same day as the Tar Heels as both lost in the Sweet 16. Michigan State did not make the “big dance” last year, but has been a semi-regular participant in recent years.
After that, the Heels will be headed to Indiana to play the Hoosiers in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on December 1st. That should be another good test as IU were a #3 seed who advanced to the Sweet 16 in last year’s tournament, falling to eventual runner-up UConn.
It’ll be another Big Ten faceoff later than month when they take on Michigan in the Jumpman Invitational in Charlotte. The Wolverines were an Elite Eight team last season.
Besides Jackson State, UNC will also host TCU, South Carolina State, UNC Wilmington, and Wofford. The other road trips will be to James Madison and North Carolina A&T.
The conference schedule has yet to be released, and those games should also provide some stern tests, as the ACC is almost always a very deep women’s basketball conference.
In what could be a very exciting season, there will be some very interesting challenges for the Tar Heels in 2022-23.