Carolina’s basketball schedule is deceptively difficult.
Roy Williams’ Tar Heels released their complete schedule for the coming season, and it’s not as manageable as we might have hoped. Carolina will be favored to win every non-conference game in November and December, excepting who UNC ends up playing at the Nike PK80 tournament in Portland.
So, despite what could be 11 wins before ACC plays begins, the rest of the season depends on how Williams’ new big men develop in those early games because the ACC schedule is not favorable in several ways. The Heels play home and home with Duke, N.C. State, Notre Dame and Clemson – and beating the Wolfpack, Irish and Tigers on the road is definitely doable.
It’s the five pure ACC road games that could pose a problem, at least on paper. Carolina must go to Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Syracuse – all well-coached and talented teams that should be in the ACC’s upper echelon. You hate to make those trips without getting a return shot at hosting the Seminoles, Cavaliers, Hokies, Cardinals and Orange.
The five home-only opponents are Wake Forest, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Pitt and Miami. All but the Hurricanes are still rebuilding. But while the Tar Heels could roll through those five, they could easily lose all five of the pure ACC road games.
Then, over the final three weeks of the regular season, they play four of their last six and three of their last four games away from the Smith Center. A couple of Ol’ Roy’s new freshmen bigs, who shall remain nameless, had better be ready by then.
The stretch begins on February 10 at State, which will be better late in the season than early under new coach Kevin Keatts. After the home rematch with Notre Dame, Carolina faces back-to-back games at Louisville and Syracuse. The Heels then get the weekend off before the home game with speedy Miami and the regular season finale at Duke.
No question, Williams has one of the best perimeters in the country with Joel Berry, Theo Pinson, Pitt transfer Cameron Johnson, Kenny Williams, Brandon Robinson, Seventh Woods and frosh Jalek Felton. But who besides Luke Maye gets a rebound? While the three new post men may be virtual unknowns, someone has to earn his spurs and minutes underneath. Or Carolina won’t be ready for when that schedule turns nasty.