Most of the opponents were already known, and a handful of dates and locations were penciled in. But now that North Carolina has formally released its 2014-15 basketball schedule, we can really start looking ahead to what the Tar Heels will face this season.
We can also start picking apart the hills and valleys of the slate, which is a tough one but also one that can provide UNC with great preparation for the postseason.
The 2014-15 schedule features 13 nonconference games before Carolina gets into the 18-game ACC lineup. All told, UNC plays 15 home games in the Dean Smith Center, with 12 games on the road and four set for neutral sites. That includes three games in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
The 15 dates in Chapel Hill are the fewest since the 2010-11 season, when UNC only played 30 regular-season games.
The full schedule is listed below. You can also find a PDF of it to download here.
|Nov. 14||North Carolina Central||HOME|
|Nov. 16||Robert Morris||HOME|
|Nov. 22||Davidson||Charlotte, NC|
|Nov. 26||Butler (Battle 4 Atlantis)||Nassau, Bahamas|
|Nov. 27||TBD (Battle 4 Atlantis)||Nassau, Bahamas|
|Nov. 28||TBD (Battle 4 Atlantis)||Nassau, Bahamas|
|Dec. 7||East Carolina||HOME|
|Dec. 13||Kentucky||Lexington, MY|
|Dec. 16||UNC-Greensboro||Greensboro, NC|
|Dec. 20||Ohio State||Chicago, IL|
|Dec. 27||William & Mary||HOME|
|Jan. 3||Clemson*||Clemson, SC|
|Jan. 5||Notre Dame*||HOME|
|Jan. 14||NC State*||Raleigh, NC|
|Jan. 18||Virginia Tech*||HOME|
|Jan. 21||Wake Forest *||Winston Salem, NC|
|Jan. 24||Florida State*||HOME|
|Jan. 31||Louisville*||Louisville, NC|
|Feb. 7||Boston College*||Chestnut Hill, MA|
|Feb. 14||Pittsburgh*||Pittsburgh, PA|
|Feb. 18||Duke*||Durham, NC|
|Feb. 21||Georgia Tech*||HOME|
|Feb. 24||North Carolina State*||HOME|
|Feb. 28||Miami (Fla.)*||Coral Gables, FL|
|March 3||Georgia Tech*||Atlanta, GA|
The schedule features either 13 or 14 games against teams that made the NCAA tournament last season, depending on who UNC's final opponent is in the Bahamas. Only seven of the games will come against foes that finished below .500 a year ago.
* Jan 18-24 (vs. Virginia Tech, at Wake Forest, vs. Florida State): The trio combined to go 17-37 in ACC play last season, with Florida State winning nine of those games. The FSU game is the toughest of the three, but it's at home, though it does fall two days before UNC hosts Syracuse on ESPN's Big Monday lineup.
* Feb. 7-18 (at Boston College, at Pittsburgh, at Duke): Sure, BC was among the worst major college teams in the nation last year, but with the trip to Chestnut Hill serving as the opening leg of a three-game, 12-day road trip, it's the kind of game that could get overlooked. That's enhanced by the face UNC goes from there to Pittsburgh and then back to Tobacco Row for the annual trip to Duke.
According to Adam Lucas of GoHeels.com, it marks the first time under Roy Williams and the first occasion since the 2000-01 season that Carolina plays three straight ACC road games.
You could stretch it out even further and take in the two games before the three-game trip, making it an even more difficult spate. On. Jan. 31 UNC visits Louisville, then two days later hosts Virginia. Even with BC in there, that's a quintet that went 121-56 in 2013-14.
* Nov. 14-16 (vs. NC Central, vs. Robert Morris): Yes, both teams come from the kind of conferences (Northeast and MEAC, respectively) that usually earn no better than a No. 14 seed in the NCAA tournament. But these are the reigning conference regular-season champions, with Robert Morris getting upset at home in the Northeast tourney final and NC Central won 28 games en route to an NCAA berth.
* Feb. 28-March 3 (at Miami, at Georgia Tech): These teams combined to go 33-33 last year, but both should be improved in 2013-14. This is Carolina's final road trip of the regular season, with the Tech game coming four days before the Heels host Duke.
Worth the trip
* Nov. 26-28 (at Battle 4 Atlantis; Nassau, Bahamas): As if you needed a reason to go to the Bahamas, Carolina is entered in a whopper of a preseason tournament. After opening with Butler, UNC will face either Oklahoma or UCLA, both of which reached the NCAA tournament last year. The Heels' final game will also be a challenge, with the possible opponents being Florida, Georgetown, Wisconsin or UAB. If it's UAB, that would mean facing the Blazers twice in a month (along with the Dec. 27 game in Chapel Hill).
Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.