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Heel Tough Blog: 2023 Non-Conference Schedule Breakdown


After a recent run of news regarding Carolina’s non-conference slate for the upcoming season, today the program unveiled its entire non-conference schedule, as we await the ACC schedule later this off-season. Over the years, we grew accustomed to Roy Williams putting together the toughest non-conference schedule in all of college basketball. Once Hubert Davis was hired as the next steward of Carolina Basketball, it was going to be interesting to see how he put together his non-conference schedule, with having to play 20 ACC games every year. Well if this year is any indication, Carolina will continue to play the toughest non-conference schedule possible to get themselves ready for the grueling ACC season.


The Tar Heels open with three straight games in Chapel Hill, against formidable opponents on Radford, Lehigh, and UC Riverside. After the homestand, Carolina will depart for the Battle 4 Atlantis, where they will face Northern Iowa in the opening round, before taking on either Texas Tech or Villanova in the second round. It doesn’t get any easier for the Tar Heels after their trip to the island, because they’ll return home to face Tennessee in the first-ever ACC/SEC Challenge.


It doesn’t get any easier for Carolina in the final month of 2023, as they will return to Madison Square Garden for a second straight season, when they take on UConn, in the annual Jimmy V Classic. Hubert Davis has made it known he wants Carolina to have a presence in the Big Apple again after Coach Smith took the Tar Heels routinely to the city that never sleeps. The Tar Heels will stay on the road after taking on UConn, as they will travel to Atlanta to face off against Kentucky in the annual CBS Sports Challenge. From there, Carolina stays away from Chapel Hill, as they will square off against Oklahoma in the second-ever Jumpman Invitational. After that, Carolina will return home to take on Charleston Southern, to complete the non-conference portion of the season.

It’s easy to note all the brand names that Carolina will see in the first two months of the year, as virtually every name program will be ranked in the preseason. While that is going to be the major talking point, the biggest void on the non-conference schedule is that Carolina will not play a true road game, until they start ACC play, which will begin during the back half of the non-conference season.

UNC will have plenty of opportunities to build its NCAA Tournament resume in November and December, as there will be plenty of Quad 1 games being played. Last year, Carolina was 2-11 in such games, and that was the biggest reason why they missed the Big Dance, in what was as disappointing a season in the history of the program. The fact that Hubert Davis put together this tough of a schedule tells you what type of team he thinks he’s going to have this year. One way or another, we’re going to find out if his program is ready to bounce back and return to the national prominence we expect every year.

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