By Adam Lucas
1. A separate set of nonconference schedule Rapid Reactions was released when that portion of the schedule came out, and it can be found here. The full schedule, which was released today, is available here.
2. Carolina will have a lengthy December layoff between Dec. 5 and 16. That stretch will also include exams, of course, but it’s still the longest non-Christmas layoff since the 2018 team also went 11 days between games. The 2018 and 2024 teams will have the longest such breaks in the last 15 years. It will be interesting to see how Hubert Davis uses that time with his team. Last year’s squad didn’t get that break–and it might have been beneficial.
3. The three road ACC games immediately starting in January will get plenty of attention, and it will be a challenge to travel to Pitt and Clemson–two teams that play a very rugged style–back to back. But it’s also worth remembering that it’s likely students won’t be on campus for those two games, which provides a certain advantage. Classes start at NC State on Jan. 8, so PNC Arena will be at full ferocity for Carolina’s visit there on Jan. 10. The last time Carolina played three straight road ACC games consecutively in a non-Covid year was 2016; the Tar Heels went 1-2 in that stretch against Louisville, Notre Dame and Boston College.
4. And those three road games even out in late February and early March, when the Tar Heels host three straight home games against Miami, State and Notre Dame at a time of year when teams are often trying to stack victories to build NCAA Tournament credentials.
5. Always check the Saturday-Monday turnarounds. Carolina has two of them. The first is in January, as the Tar Heels follow a road trip to Boston College with a home game against Wake Forest. That’s a manageable schedule. The other is tougher and may eventually be important in determining how outsiders think of this team approaching March. On Feb. 24, the Heels travel to Virginia. And on Feb. 26, Carolina hosts Miami. It’s generally expected that both of those squads will be Atlantic Coast Conference contenders; playing them both in just over 48 hours is a good replica of an NCAA Tournament weekend.
6. Another note about that Virginia game–Carolina has a week off to prepare for the Cavaliers. It’s never bad to have extra time to get ready for a Virginia team that plays perhaps the most unique style in the league.
7. How about this: the Tar Heels will play only one 9 p.m. ACC game, a welcome relief. And after that game–a home date with Louisville on Jan. 17–the Heels don’t play a game that starts later than 7 p.m. That’s one of the more fan-friendly schedules Carolina has had in recent years.
8. Saturday home games have become almost a basketball holiday in Chapel Hill. This year, those games are Florida State (Dec. 2), Syracuse (Jan. 13), Duke (Feb. 3), Virginia Tech (Feb. 17) and NC State (March 2). Expect those games to be the most popular tickets on the home schedule.
9. A lack of Quad 1 victories was very damaging to Carolina’s postseason hopes last year. Looking at this schedule, there appear to be three road games that are likely to be Q1 opportunities: at Virginia, at Miami and at Duke. As we’ve learned, though, which team falls into which quad is entirely unpredictable in September (and sometimes even in February).