When UNC opens the 2007-08 season Wednesday night they will do so in Charlotte in a neutral court game versus Davidson. This will be followed by two games at the Smith Center and then the next six games away from Chapel Hill over a span of 31 days. On one hand this is a great schedule for a team with designs on a national title since it will be both revealing and educational at the same time. Then again it is somewhat unusual for a highly ranked team to go on a stretch like UNC will through November into December. In fact most schools tend to keep the away games in check for various reasons from not wanting to play tough road games to receiving revenue from playing at home. Here is a breakdown of the non-conference games away from home for each team in the ACC.
Team: OOC Road/Neutral/Total OOC Away from Home
Georgia Tech: 6/3/9
Virginia Tech: 3/5/8
Florida State: 3/3/6
NC State: 3/3/6
Wake Forest: 3/1/4
Boston College: 1/1/2
- Georgia Tech wins the prize for scheduling the most games away from home outside the conference. The Yellow Jackets play six true non-conference road games and three on a neutral court. The other aspect of the Tech schedule is the bulk of the games away from home exceeds the stretch UNC will play next week.
- Virginia Tech is the other road warrior in the conference taking eight games away from Blacksburg. In the case of the Hokies and Duke they play five games on a neutral court. Virginia Tech actually has two different tournaments schedule whereas Duke plays in the Maui Invitational plus their traditional game at Madison Square Garden and matchup with Davidson in Charlotte. Duke has a reputation of not playing true non-conference road games and this season is no different with the trip to Temple as the only actual OOC game in a hostile environment.
- Maryland and Boston College share Duke’s disdain for playing OOC teams at their place. In fact BC has disdain for playing away from Chestnut Hill in general with only one other game, besides the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, away from home that being Providence in Boston if you can really call that being away from home.
- It is notable that the neutral court games for most of these teams come from tournaments. Most teams also appear to have a game or two they play against a random team but on a neutral court such as UNC and Duke playing Davidson.
- What does this all mean? For the ACC 5th through 9th place finishers how well they perform away from home could ave bearing on their ability to secure an at large bid. Boston College, for example, could be in serious trouble if they end up on the bubble because they have only two games away from home OOC. Georgia Tech will benefit greatly from the tough schedule on the road but only if they avoid more pitfalls such as the one they got from UNC Greensboro last Friday. For teams like UNC, NC State, Duke playing in tournaments and away from home are good tests early in the season which help the coaches identify what kind of issues they might have ahead of the real season in the conference and NCAA Tournament. There is a certain baptism by fire playing in hostile or pressure filled environments provides which will either make teams tougher or if you are Virginia playing south of Atlanta saddle you with weird and bad losses.