Mar 24, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels players huddle before a game against the Kansas Jayhawks during the third round of the NCAA basketball tournament at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN: North Carolina Tar Heels Have Toughest Non-Conference Schedule

The college basketball season is right around the corner and for the North Carolina Tar Heels there are a lot of unknowns after the drama filled summer they’ve had regarding PJ Hairston. One thing Roy Williams and crew do know is their schedule for the upcoming season and I knew before hand that it wasn’t an easy one. Now, others are starting to notice that too!

ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan took a look at each of the non-conference schedules for each school in the ACC. His results: North Carolina has the toughest non-conference schedule in the ACC for the 2013 season. Brennan rated each team’s non-conference schedule on a scale of 1-10 and then listed their toughest games before he analyzed them.

North Carolina was given a 9/10 on schedule strength which was the highest and toughest schedule of any ACC school. They will play their toughest games against the Kentucky Wildcats, Michigan State Spartans, and in the Hall of Fame Tipoff. Texas has also been known to give a good fight and will play the Tar Heels again this season.

The usual North Carolina scheduling partners are all here. There’s that trip to Michigan State (this time thanks to the ACC-Big Ten Challenge), the home-and-home with Texas, the huge mid-December date with Kentucky — it’s all there. This year, UNC even adds to that with the Hall of Fame Tipoff tournament, which, if expectations hold, will put the Tar Heels up against defending national champion Louisville in Uncasville, Conn. (after an opening game against Richmond). That means the Heels are likely to face the preseason No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the country before the middle of December. Not too shabby.

Tobacco Road rivals Duke had a more challenging schedule for once where Brennan wrote, “The Blue Devils rarely overdo it with their schedules, but just as rarely make it to ACC season without at least a handful of solid results on their docket. So it is again in 2013-14, if slightly tougher than the norm.”

Well, maybe we can’t call Coach K a coward this year, but there’s no denying he refuses to play tough games on the road!

As for Roy Williams, it’s time to prepare immediately upon practice being held in just a few weeks. It won’t be an easy season, but if the Tar Heels play a solid non-conference schedule, they’ll be well prepared for the NCAA Tournament!

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