Roy Williams: "It is a really challenging schedule and it's a schedule that I think is really good for this team. If we stay lucky and stay healthy, we have a chance to be a very good basketball team so we like to play marquee games and we have several of them on the schedule - they are games that I think everyone will enjoy and I know my team will be fired up."
CHAPEL HILL -- The University of North Carolina men's basketball team will begin its 2011-12 regular season on Friday, Nov. 11 with the first-ever college basketball game to be played on an aircraft carrier when the Tar Heels play Michigan State in the Carrier Classic. The game, featuring a rematch of the 2009 NCAA championship game won by UNC in Detroit, will be played on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, Calif.
The Atlantic Coast Conference released all ACC men's team schedules on Wednesday afternoon. Carolina will face marquee non-conference games against not only Michigan State, but also Wisconsin, Kentucky and Texas in what should be a challenging 2011-12 slate of opponents.
Less than 48 hours after the game in San Diego, the Tar Heels will play another road game across the country on Nov. 13 at UNC Asheville. After a week's break, the Tar Heels will play four games in seven nights in the iBN Sports Las Vegas Invitational, hosting two games in Chapel Hill before playing a pair of contests in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend.
The next week, Carolina will play a pair of games against nationally-ranked foes, hosting Wisconsin on Wednesday Nov. 30 and visiting Kentucky on Saturday Dec. 3. Following the tough early stretch that includes games in San Diego, Asheville, Chapel Hill, Las Vegas and Lexington in the first month of the season, the Tar Heels will host nine consecutive home games between Dec. 6 and Jan. 10.
Overall, Carolina will host 18 home games plus one exhibition (versus UNC Pembroke on either Oct. 28 or 29). UNC will play 10 regular season games against teams that participated in the 2011 NCAA Tournament--Michigan State, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Texas, UNLV or Southern California (in Las Vegas), UNC Asheville, Clemson, Florida State and Duke (twice).
The Tar Heels will host Wisconsin on Nov. 30 in the 13th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, marking the first time the Tar Heels and Badgers have met in the event.
Two of the most storied programs in college basketball history -- Carolina and Kentucky -- will play for the 11th consecutive season when they meet on Saturday, Dec. 3 in Lexington, Ky. The two teams split a pair of games last year with the Tar Heels winning in the regular season in Chapel Hill and the Wildcats emerging victorious in the NCAA Tournament East Regional final. UNC has won six of the last eight meetings in the annual series and 22 of 34 the previous encounters. Carolina and Texas will meet for the third consecutive season when the Longhorns visit Chapel Hill on Dec. 21. UT beat UNC at neutral sites in each of the last two seasons.
UNC will also play non-conference home games against some familiar foes in December and January. On Dec. 17, former Tar Heel player Jason Capel, now the head coach at Appalachian State, will bring his Mountaineer squad to the Smith Center. On Jan. 1, former Tar Heel point guard King Rice's Monmouth team will visit Chapel Hill. Rice's former UNC teammates Derrick Phelps and Brian Reese are members of the coaching staff at Monmouth.
UNC begins ACC play with back-to-back home games against Boston College (Jan. 7) and Miami (Jan. 10). The Hurricanes are one of five ACC opponents the Tar Heels will play twice, along with Duke, NC State, Virginia and Maryland. Carolina will play six conference teams just once with home games against BC, Georgia Tech and Clemson and road games at Virginia Tech, Florida State and Wake Forest.
The 2011-12 UNC season will unofficially tip off on Friday Oct. 14 with the annual Late Night with Roy festivities in Chapel Hill.