The Tar Heels, coming off a 19-16 record and berth in the NIT a year ago, will play host to UConn on Saturday, January 17, at 3:30 p.m. Last year, Carolina upset the sixth-ranked Huskies, 68-65. Connecticut has already been picked No. 1 in the nation in a preseason ranking.
Carolina plays Kentucky for the fourth year in a row, this time at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, January 3 at noon. The Wildcats were 32-4 and reached an NCAA regional final in 2003. Kentucky has defeated UNC three straight years, although Carolina still leads the overall series, 16-9.
UNC and Illinois square off for the second year in a row when the teams meet in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday, December 2. Game time is 9 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Coliseum is also the site of the 50th annual Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament on March 11-14, 2004.
The Illinois game is Carolina's first non-ACC Tournament game in the Greensboro Coliseum since UNC beat UConn in the 1998 NCAA East Regional championship game. Last year, the Illini handed the Tar Heels their first loss of the season, a 92-65 defeat in Champaign, Ill.
"We are faced with a challenging schedule once again," says head coach Roy Williams. "North Carolina fans are accustomed to us playing a tough schedule and this year's is no different. I am excited about the idea that a difficult schedule will really get our players attention and make them focused on the task ahead of them. They've got to come together as a team to help erase the difficult memories of 36 losses in the last two years. The players know they will have to be ready to go the first time we take the floor."
Carolina faces eight opponents (a total of 12 games) that played in the 2003 NCAA Tournament. Those opponents include ACC rivals Duke, Maryland, NC State and Wake Forest, plus Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky and UNC Wilmington.
The Convocation Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is the site of the Tar Heels' December 28 game against UNC Wilmington. This will be the first ever meeting between the Tar Heels and Seahawks.
The annual Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage is Sunday, November 2, at 2 p.m. in the Smith Center. Carolina also plays host to two exhibition contests - November 8 vs. North Carolina Central and Nov. 13 against Nike Elite. The NC Central game time will depend on the time of the UNC-Wake Forest football game, which will be played at Kenan Stadium that same day.
The Tar Heels open regular-season play on Saturday, November 22, at the Smith Center against Old Dominion. Carolina edged the Monarchs, 67-59, last year in Norfolk, Va.
UNC also plays non-ACC home games against George Mason (December 7), Akron (December 14), Coastal Carolina (December 30) and Miami, Fla. (January 7).
The ACC regular-season begins Saturday, December 20, when the Tar Heels play host to Wake Forest at 5:30 p.m.