Each day gone by draws closer to the start of college basketball. November 8th marks the day of the first Tar Heel basketball game against Oakland! With that said, the Tar Heels will face a tough schedule before the start of ACC play. ESPN ranked the Tar Heels’ out of conference schedule 10th best out of every team. Some may think this is too low, but it all depends on one thing. Roy Williams typically does his scheduling based on how good he thinks his team is going to be. This season he thought he would have Reggie Bullock and did not see the PJ Hairston fiasco coming.
The Tar Heels open up the year with three home games against Oakland, Holy Cross, and Belmont. Then they play their first game in the Hall of Fame Tipoff against Richmond. This game might be tougher than one may think. North Carolina might be without PJ Hairston and Richmond is not an easy win. If the Heels can get that win they will play the winner between Louisville and Fairfield on November 24th. Louisville is projected to be in the top five in the preseason polls. One thing that is for sure is that you are never guaranteed a win in college basketball, especially in the beginning of the season. The reason why ESPN could not give UNC a better out of conference schedule ranking of 10 is because technically the Tar Heels might not play Louisville or might not even beat Richmond. The article does mention that if the Tar Heels do play the Cardinals then they would have one of top three out of conference schedules in the country.
North Carolina then goes on a two game road trip traveling to play UAB and then to East Lansing to play Michigan State on December 4th. The Spartans are projected to be ranked in the top five in the country when the preseason polls come out. This matchup will be a tough one with PJ Hairston and even tougher without him. North Carolina could potentially be playing two top 5 teams in three games from November 24th to December 4th. UNC then goes home for two games, one being against UNC Greensboro.
On December 14th the Tar Heels will play host to the Kentucky Wildcats. For those who may not know, Kentucky will more than likely be in the preseason top five as well. With their stellar incoming freshman class against the veterans on North Carolina. This game is by far the most anticipated of all the nonconference games. North Carolina fans are hoping PJ Hairston is back for this game. Bragging rights are on the line.
The Tar Heels then have four more consecutive home games against Texas, Davidson, Northern Kentucky, and UNC Wilmington to close out the nonconference schedule.
The Tar Heels could potentially be playing the top 3 teams in the poll once the season starts. Now that is all subject to change, but nevertheless this nonconference schedule will be a very tough one for North Carolina. No one knows how long Hairston will be out as well as no one knowing about future injuries. Every single player on North Carolina will be challenged to step up and perform well. If the Heels play well and win all the games they should win and win one or two against MSU, UK, or maybe UL, then they will be in great shape going into conference play and will have some key victories to add to their NCAA Tournament resume. North Carolina will be prepared to play in the new ACC.