The ABC crowd will be crowing about Carolina’s new hoops schedule.
The 2018-19 basketball schedules were released this week, and did the Tar Heels ever catch a break with the rotation of ACC single-game opponents. If we didn’t know better, you would think Commissioner John Swofford used to be the athletic director at UNC. Tsk. Tsk.
To review, since the ACC expanded to 15 schools in basketball, the annual schedule for each team features four home-and-home opponents, five single home games and five single road trips for a total of 18 conference games.
Each school has two so-called rival opponents that it plays both home and away every year, and for the Tar Heels that is always Duke and N.C. State. This season, their other two home-and-home series are against Louisville and Miami, both featuring NCAA tournament caliber teams.
The 10 singles games are where Carolina’s schedule gets interesting, and very favorable if you are a Tar Heels fan. Let’s take the five home games first to prove my point.
Roy Williams’ club, which for the third straight year must replace two senior starters, faces Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Florida State and Syracuse at the Dean Smith Center. All but the Fighting Irish were NCAA tournament teams last year, and that Carolina plays all five only at home means the Heels will not only be favored to beat all five, they won’t have return games in South Bend, Blacksburg, Charlottesville, Tallahassee and Syracuse – tough road trips in any season.
UNC’s five ACC away games are to Pitt, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Clemson and Boston College. All but Clemson missed the NCAA tournament last season and all but Clemson will be picked to finish low in the conference standings in the preseason polls. Thus, critics will claim Carolina has one of the easiest away schedules in the conference.
Duke, N.C. State, Louisville and Miami are all winnable games in Chapel Hill, and the Tar Heels always play well in Durham and Raleigh, win or lose. Sure, playing at Louisville and Miami aren’t easy, but the overall ACC schedule is much to Carolina’s advantage. The ABC crowd will agree.