Expansion killed the round-robin in basketball and created an unbalanced schedule. Each team plays five opponents twice — two of which are the designated partner (i.e. UNC's partners are Duke and N.C. State) — and then three home games and three road games.
Teams have used the unbalanced schedule to their advantage, like Virginia winning 11 ACC games in 2006-07 or Virginia Tech winning nine games last season.
In general, any team that avoids playing UNC or Duke twice is lucky. Teams that don't have to play at either the Smith Center or Cameron Indoor Stadium are also obviously catching a break.
For the 2008-09, three teams do not play either Duke or UNC twice — Boston College, Clemson and Georgia Tech.
Wake Forest, Florida State and Virginia Tech don't have to go to Chapel Hill next season, getting the Tar Heels only at home.
The unbalanced scheduling loser? Maryland, which is the only team that has to play both UNC and Duke twice.
The order and dates will be released later in August but the in-conference breakdown is as follows:
Twice: N.C. State, Duke, Miami, UVa, Md
Home only: BC, Clemson, GT
Road only: Wake, FSU, VT
Analysis: The visit to Winston-Salem might be the Heels only ACC loss next season.
Twice: UNC, Wake, BC, GT, Miami
Home only: FSU, UVa, Md
Road only: Clemson, Duke, VT
Analysis: Scheduling will determine the bottom six spots in the league. It will be an uphill battle for State with six games against UNC, Wake and Miami. The home only schedule presents three winnable games but the road only looks like a lost cause, despite the Wolfpack's track record against Virginia Tech. Playing Duke only at Duke doesn't help either.
Twice: UNC, FSU, Md, VT, Wake
Home only: N.C. State, UVa, Miami
Road only: BC, GT, Clemson
Analysis: I love when Mike Krzyzewski argues Duke has the toughest schedule. That's impossible because Duke can't play Duke. Duke's Duke and another 13-3 season is there for the taking with this schedule. The home-and-home with Wake is timely and actually thoughtful of the ACC computer considering both teams will be vying for second place.
Twice: N.C. State, Miami, VT, Wake, GT
Home only: Duke, FSU, Clemson
Road only: UNC, UVa, Md
Analysis: The Eagles won four ACC games last season so it's hard to project them as an NCAA Tournament team but with this schedule, they at least have a chance. Single games with Duke and UNC and no trip to Duke.
Twice: GT, FSU, Wake, UVa, VT
Home only: N.C. State, Md, Duke
Road only: UNC, BC, Miami
Analysis: The world at-large is down on the Tigers after their NCAA Tournament collapse, but the pieces are there for a return trip. So is the schedule. The Tigers get Duke and UNC only once. They do have to go to Chapel Hill, a loss under any circumstance, but they should find 10 ACC wins with this schedule.
Twice: Miami, Duke, Clemson, UVa, VT
Home only: UNC, GT, Md
Road only: N.C. State, BC, Wake
Analysis: Bonus for FSU — it doesn't go to UNC. Bonus for FSU — it has a home-and-home with Virginia. Problem for FSU — Leonard Hamilton's still the coach.
Twice: N.C. State, BC, Clemson, Md, Wake
Home only: Duke, Miami, UVa
Road only: UNC, FSU, VT
Analysis: Two years ago, the Jackets were the only ACC team to play UNC and Duke twice. That actually helped their NCAA cause — they got in at 8-8. This season, the Jackets don't have to play either heavyweight twice. That's good. The home schedule, outside of UVa, looks like a fight though but overall, the Jackets are a scheduling winner.
Twice: UNC, UVa, GT, Duke, Miami
Home only: BC, Wake, VT
Road only: N.C. State, FSU, Clemson
Analysis: The Terps are going to be a guard-heavy team. In theory, they'd prefer to avoid home-and-homes with the bigger teams (UNC, Miami, Clemson, Wake, GT). That didn't happen. The Terps are going to have to shoot lights-out every night to finish higher than 10th.
Twice: UNC, N.C. State, BC, FSU, Md
Home only: Clemson, VT, Wake
Road only: GT, Duke, UVa
Analysis: Between Miami, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest — three teams who figure to push Duke for second place — the Canes are the only ones who get UNC twice. When you're talking about the difference between 12-4 or 11-5, there you go.
Twice: UNC, VT, Md, FSU, Clemson
Home only: BC, Wake, Miami
Road only: N.C. State, GT, Duke
Analysis: I'm inclined to agree with Roy Williams here, the Cavaliers could play every game in Siberia next season and the location won't matter. They'll occasionally put up a fight at home but this UVa team will be lucky to win more than four ACC games.
Twice: UVa, BC, FSU, Clemson, Duke
Home only: UNC, N.C. State, GT
Road only: Md, Wake, Miami
Analysis: Getting UNC at home is a break (check last year's score at the Smith Center if you don't believe me). Given what Seth Greenberg has shown he can do, there's no reason to believe the Hokies won't win 10 or 11 ACC games.
Twice: N.C. State, BC, GT, Clemson, Duke
Home only: UNC, FSU, Wake
Road only: Md, UVa, Miami
Analysis: Wake went 1-7 in the ACC on the road last season, so any game away from Winston-Salem is a challenge. If this team can get to .500 on the road, they have a chance to edge Duke for second place. The lack of a trip to UNC certainly helps.