You have to hand it to North Carolina, they weren’t really a good team last year, but at least they weren’t afraid to play anyone. Last year, the Tar Heels had the ACC’s toughest non-conference schedule.
While a handful of the same teams appear on this year schedule, it’s probably a reach to say this year’s schedule is as tough as last year’s schedule. Having said that, there is still plenty of competition heading North Carolina’s way.
NORTH CAROLINA’S 2010-2011 SCHEDULE
The season begins in Puerto Rice, for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The tournament doesn’t have the sex appeal as the NIT Tip-Off or the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament, but overall there is some talent there. Yet, heading into this season, last year’s N.I.T runner-up will probably be the favorite to win it.
The Tar Heels start off with an easy one against Hofstra. Next they’ll face the winner of Western Kentucky/Minnesota. Other the other side of the bracket, they’ll be looking at Davidson, West Virginia, Nebraska and Vanderbelt. None of these four will be ranked heading into 2010-2011.
UNC will head home to take on UNC Asheville, before looking for some revenge against College of Charleston.
Typically, Carolina gets matched up against one of the top two or three teams in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Not this year though. They have to travel to Illinois, who finished 53rd in Ken Pom’s final rankings last year.
December though starts with a bang when John Calipari’s freshman wrecking crew comes to Chapel Hill. Carolina should be 6-0 by this point, but if they want respect, they can’t let Kentucky steal one in their backyard.
The rest of the month is layered in cupcakes. The one exception is a December 18 date with Texas. Like the game with Kentucky, the Tar Heels will be looking for some payback on their home court.
The ACC schedule starts January 8 against Virginia, but it’s the second game against the Hokies I’m looking forward to. It’s at home and in my mind, it features the two teams I think will be battling Duke for the top spot in the conference.
Speaking of Duke, obviously North Carolina sees them twice. The first match up in Durham is February 9.