Now that the ACC has released the 2016-17 conference basketball schedule, what does it all mean for the Deacs?
Double dippers break in Wake’s favor
Wake couldn’t have asked for a much better draw of teams to play twice this season, facing two of the bottom three teams in last year’s conference standings both home and away, in North Carolina State (5-13) and Boston College (0-18).
The Deacs also face a usually very beatable Clemson (10-8) squad as well as Duke (11-7). The Blue Devils are sure to improve their conference record, but I think the March Jan. 28 matchup with Duke at The Joel will be one circled by many Wake fans for a variety of reasons.
All told, the combined conference record last season of the teams Wake plays twice is 26-46.
Best potential stretch
Right off the bat, the Deacs open up conference play on December 28 at Florida State (8-10), then return home for an noon New Year’s Eve game against Clemson (10-8).
They then have the opportunity to continue positive momentum with a home game against hapless Boston College on Jan. 3 before moving on for a road game at Virginia, who finished 13-5 in the conference last season. The Deacs have a reasonable shot of going into that game with a 3-0 ACC record.
Gauntlet of Doom
They kind of need to be 3-0 to start, given how quickly the level of difficulty shifts. The next six games are quite the challenge, but this is the ACC. There’s no easy path to moving up the ladder, and it wouldn’t be as much fun it there were.
After the UVA game, the Deacs host UNC (14-4) on Jan. 11 and then Miami (13-5) on Jan. 18. The North Carolina State Wolfpack may have had a down year at 5-13 in the conference last season, but it’s never easy for the Deacs to play in Raleigh, which is where they go next before a game in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse (9-9) on Jan. 24. They finish up this tough stretch with a home game against the Blue Devils. Throwing NC State out of that mix of six games, the other five squads had a combined conference record of 60-30.
If the Deacs were able to steal two or three wins in that stretch, the season would lay out quite nice.
Games before students return
Last year, the Deacs hosted Duke before students returned to campus and North Carolina State the day before classes started for the spring semester.
Spring semester classes begin Jan. 10, and there’s no such high-profile games with those circumstances this season, with the non-student home games being Clemson and Boston College. That should enable the students to show up big for the big games, and also help reduce the flow of enemy fans into Joel Coliseum.