We’re still over 100 days away from the start of college basketball, but UNC has already released the dates of all of their non-conference games, and as of last week, they know all of their non-ACC opponents. Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of Carolina’s eleven games out of ACC play.
UNC will start the season with four straight games in the Smith Center, a venue they only lost in twice last season. Carolina will open against UNC-Wilmington, furthering a tradition started by Dean Smith, then continued by Roy Williams and now Hubert Davis, of helping smaller schools from a financial perspective. The other home non-conference game will come against The Citadel in December after UNC has dipped into ACC play. This is the first time since the 2019-20 season, that Carolina has played five or fewer non-conference games since only playing four that season.
Neutral Site Delight:
The Tar Heels aren’t strangers to playing neutral site games over the years, and this year will be no different, as they will play 5 non-conference games in road venues. Of those 5 games, Carolina will face off against a minimum of three teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season, (Ohio State, Michigan, and Villanova/Iowa State), and could be four depending on how the Phil Knight Invitational unfolds. We’re used to seeing UNC play these high-level opponents in home and home situations but given the added conference games, they’ll have to settle for being played in half-empty NBA gyms. Also given that the NCAA Tournament is played on neutral courts, this isn’t a bad strategy. Carolina last played in 5 non-conference games on a neutral floor back in the 2017-18 campaign.
One for the Road:
The only non-conference game happens to be at Indiana, the week after UNC returns from Portland when they’ll take on the Hoosiers in the annual ACC/Big 10 Challenge. The last time Carolina only played one true road game before ACC play was back during the pandemic ridden 2020-21 season.
Into the Future?
Carolina is slated to play against 3 Big 10 opponents that we know of in the non-conference portion of the upcoming season (Ohio State, Michigan, and Indiana), and could be four depending on how the Phil Knight Invitational unfolds (Michigan State). With all the rumors around the future of the ACC in question after the latest round of conference realignment, many believe if the ACC were to fold, Carolina would find itself competing in the Big 10. The last time UNC faced off against three Big 10 opponents was back in the 2017-18 season.
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