While I catch up on reading football practice notes and what not let me offer a quick take on the 2007-08 basketball schedule which was released last week.
UNC opens up the season playing Davidson in Charlotte. Davidson is everyone’s local mid-major darling which means this opening game might be a lot like the opener versus Winthrop last season. The most intriguing part of the early schedule is the stretch which includes a potential game versus Louisville followed by road games at Ohio State and Kentucky in succession. For a team that faced all sorts of questions last season about toughness will by the end of the first week in December play a stretch very much like one they could see in the NCAA Tournament. Win or lose these three games will seriously test the mettle of this team and make the players imminently aware of what will be needed to win the national title. It also should be an indicator how much they have grown since that epic collapse of last March. In fact the six games UNC plays from November 23rd until December 16th are away from Chapel Hill. The first two are neutral court games followed by the aforementioned trips to OSU and UK concluding with a swing up to Penn and Rutgers. Without a doubt this is the kind of stretch that can build many of the intangibles for a team that would appear to have the talent pieces of the puzzle in place.
The ACC portion of the schedule opens up with a hazardous two out of three on the road at Clemson, hosting NC State and at Georgia Tech which is a rather tough start for the odds on favorite to win the league. Aside from the usual home and away with Duke and NC State, UNC also gets Clemson, Florida State and Boston College twice. Three of those five are tough road games with the latter two probable sweeps. Among the single game partners trips to Atlanta and Virginia will prove to be tough games while the game at Miami should be an easy win. Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Maryland all come to Chapel Hill and on paper should be wins for the Heels.
UNC closes the regular season at Duke in what could be an attempt to win five straight versus the Devils assuming they win in Chapel Hill in February. That game is also slated as a 9 PM Saturday game on ESPN and likely subject to Full Circle Coverage, not that we really want it. The NC State series has been fully revived to it’s 1980’s glory with both of those games almost as much as a must see as Duke-UNC usually is.
Overall the ACC schedule is favorable and a good mix of tough games and freebies. The non-conference sets up much the same way and that leads me to believe that when the ACC Tournament begins UNC will be as well tested as anyone they face.