CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The ACC released the full basketball conference schedules on Monday afternoon, and North Carolina will once again encounter a brutal closing stretch heading into postseason play.
The Tar Heels will ease into the conference slate with a road trip to Georgia Tech on New Year’s Eve and an assortment of other games to boost their conference win-loss record. At Clemson on Jan. 3 and home visits by N.C. State on Jan. 7 and Syracuse on Jan. 16 could be tricky, although matchups with Wake Forest, Florida State and Boston College set up a strong early conference season run, much like last season.
In 2015-16, UNC opened ACC play with an 8-0 record before splitting its next eight games. The middle portion of the 2016-17 slate is not quite as daunting as a year ago, although the final seven games will provide a legitimate test for the Tar Heels’ postseason aspirations.
That stretch is bookended by the likely preseason No. 1 team in Duke. The Thursday night tip at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 9 opens a 24-day window that includes also road games at N.C. State, Pittsburgh and Virginia. All three of the home games will be against possible Top-25 opponents in Virginia, Louisville and the finale against the Blue Devils.
And if the quality of opponent was not tough enough, UNC’s second Saturday-Monday rotation of the conference slate features road games at Pittsburgh (Feb. 25) and Virginia (Feb. 27).
UNC’s nonconference schedule, which was released in June, is highlighted by the Maui Invitational and its loaded field over Thanksgiving week. Also of note is the ACC-Big Ten Challenge matchup with Indiana in Assembly Hall on Nov. 30 and a rivalry showdown with Kentucky in Las Vegas on Dec. 17.