Schedule press release

CHAPEL HILL --- The Preseason NIT, the ECAC Holiday Festival in New York City and non-conference home games against Kentucky and Connecticut highlight the 2002-03 University of North Carolina men's basketball schedule.

The Tar Heels open the regular-season at home against Penn State on Monday, November 18, in the opening round of the Preseason NIT. The meeting is the first between the two schools since the 2001 NCAA Tournament.

The Penn State game is one of at least 14 regular-season contests that will be played in the Smith Center. In addition, Carolina will play in three exhibition games at home, including the Blue-White scrimmage on November 2.

The Tar Heels play at least 13 games against teams that played in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament a year ago. Those teams include Illinois (#4 seed), Kentucky (#4 seed), Miami (#5 seed), Davidson (#13 seed), Connecticut (#2 seed), Maryland (#1 seed, NCAA champions), NC State (#7 seed), Wake Forest (#7 seed) and Duke (#1 seed). Carolina could also play additional games against NCAA Tournament qualifiers should it advance in the Preseason NIT and could play St. John's in the Holiday Festival.

"Our schedule is a bear, starting out with the Preseason NIT which is always a great tournament and continuing right on through the ACC," says Matt Doherty, who is set to embark on his third year as UNC's head coach. "Every game we can play before the ACC starts, the better off we will be. This will be one of the youngest teams in school history with six freshmen, three sophomores, no juniors and only two seniors, so it is important to get every opportunity to expose them to game experiences."

UNC will play in the inaugural games in two new on-campus arenas. On November 24, the Tar Heels open the Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va., against Old Dominion University. On January 4, Carolina plays Miami in the first game at the Convocation Center in Coral Gables, Fla.

"We are a national draw and people want to sell out those games," says Doherty. "It's a great credit to Carolina Basketball that over the years the program has been asked to be the first opponent in a number of different arenas."

All 27 regular-season games (and any additional tournament games) will be televised. At least 15 games will be nationally televised by ABC, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2 or Fox Sports Net.

UNC opens Atlantic Coast Conference action on Sunday, December 22, at Florida State. The Tar Heels then play four non-conference games before returning to ACC competition at Virginia on January 11. Non-conference dates with UConn (January18) and North Carolina A&T (February 18) remain later in the season.

The ACC Tournament will be played in Greensboro, N.C., on March 13-16.

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