Updated: Nov 26, 2020
The college basketball season is 3 weeks away, and today the ACC officially announced their full conference schedule for the upcoming season. Like last season, the ACC will play 20 league games, one of the only things COVID-19 hasn’t affected for the college basketball season. Unlike last year though, conference play won’t begin the first week of the season, as a condensed non-conference slate, forced the ACC to begin league play in late December.
Last year, Carolina was historically bad going 14-19 overall, and 6-14 in the ACC. It was the first losing season in Roy Williams' coaching career at the college level, and the worst finish in the ACC since the 2001-02 season, when Carolina went 8-20. Despite last year being a hard year for the program, the league did the Tar Heels no favors as they’ll face one of the toughest schedules in the ACC. Here is our breakdown of the ACC slate, month by month
The Tar Heels will open league play against NC State on December 22nd, the first game after the CBS Sports Classic for Carolina. This is the first time that the two schools will open league play against one another since 2005-06. It’s also the first time the rivals will meet in December since 1979, back when the old Big Four Tournament was held in Greensboro. Following the game at the Wolfpack, Carolina will finish up the month at Georgia Tech, a game that will be played either December 29th or 30th.
Carolina’s first home ACC game will come against Syracuse on January 2nd, before they go back on the road to Miami on either the 5th or the 6th. That means the Tar Heels will start league play on the road 3 of their first 4 games, for the first time since 2017. That team that eventually won the national championship, went 3-1 in that four game stretch. After the road trip to Miami, Carolina returns to Chapel Hill to host Clemson. If you remember back to last season, the Tigers ended their historic losing streak in Chapel Hill, and will be looking to not start a new streak. After that home game, Carolina will once again go back to the Sunshine State, and take on the Florida State Seminoles. This makes it back to back years Carolina will make the trip to Tallahassee. Carolina hasn’t won in the Tucker Center since 2016. After starting out with 4 of their first 6 on the road, they’ll finish the month with 3 of 4 in the Smith Center. The three home games will be against Wake Forest, the second matchup with NC State, and Notre Dame. Ironically enough, Carolina was a perfect 3-0 at home against those same schools in 2019-20. The road trip between those three home games, it to Pittsburgh, a place where Carolina lost for the first time since the Panthers joined the ACC last season.
As is custom, the schedule gets tougher in February for Carolina. The first game of the month is a road trip to Clemson, meaning they’ll place Clemson twice in the regular season for the first time in some time. Following the trip to Clemson, Carolina will make the trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium to renew college basketball’s greatest rivalry in Durham. Like last year, the first matchup between the two blue blood programs will take place on Saturday. Carolina will look to win in Durham for the first time since 2019. After the emotional game with Duke, Carolina will have less than 48 hours to prepare for a home game with Miami. It’s the first Saturday/Monday turnaround for Carolina, which was 2-4 in such settings last season. After the home game against the Hurricanes, the Heels will head to Charlottesville to take on UVA. It is the third such time that the two schools will only meet once, and that game won’t be in Chapel Hill. After the road trip, Carolina will once again finish the month with 3 of 4 in Chapel Hill, hosting Virginia Tech, Louisville, and Florida State. The games against the Hokies and the Cardinals are the only times the Tar Heels will see them in the regular season. The road trip sandwiched between the home games, is to Boston College, which is always a tricky environment.
It’s always a spring to the finish of the regular season, and it’s no different this year either. Carolina only has 2 games in the month of March, a road game at Syracuse, and the home finale against Duke. This makes it back to back seasons where the Tar Heels see both the Orange and the Blue Devils in the final week of the regular season.