James Michael McAdoo and UNC begin the season on Nov. 9 against Gardner-Webb. ETHAN HYMAN
CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina on Monday released its 2012-13 basketball schedule. It includes, of course, trips to Maui, Indiana and Texas and, for the first time, 18 ACC games.
After taking some time to evaluate the schedule, here are some initial thoughts:
First impression: Good schedule. Any fan of any ACC school has to like the new 18-game schedule, which is arriving a season early in anticipation of the arrival of Pitt and Syracuse. But for now, it means that UNC will play a home-and-home with all three of the in-state ACC schools, which is the way it should be. The non-conference schedule is attractive, with trips to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational and to Indiana and Texas.
Revenge factor: The Jan. 12 game at Florida State is the obvious one that coach Roy Williams and his players might have circled on their calendars. It comes almost exactly one year to the day that UNC suffered that 33-point loss at Florida State last season. The Tar Heels will also have a chance to enact some payback against UNLV, which provided the Heels with their first loss last season. The Rebels visit the Smith Center on Dec. 29.
Toughest stretch: During the non-conference portion of the schedule, UNC will face its toughest stretch in mid-to-late November. Just a week into the season, the team will travel cross country to play at Long Beach State on Nov. 16, which has won at least 22 games in each of the past two seasons. Then the Heels go to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational and when they return from that they go back on the road for a game at Indiana on Nov. 27.
In the conference, the final five games aren’t likely to be easy. Three of them are against N.C. State, Florida State and Duke – though UNC will play all of those games at the Smith Center. The Heels also go on the road to Clemson and Maryland. Both those teams have a lot of question marks, but Clemson and Maryland can be difficult places to play even when the home team isn’t all that great.
Make up ground: An ACC schedule never offers all that much room for make-up ground, but UNC has a good chance to get off to a solid start, at least. After that game at Florida State on Jan. 12, UNC hosts Maryland and Georgia Tech. As it stands now, the Heels should be favored by double-digits in both of those games. The next game, at N.C. State, will be difficult but UNC follows that with perhaps its “easiest” road game of the conference schedule, at Boston College.
Lucky, or unlucky, break: Let’s go unlucky. Not only does UNC have to play N.C. State and Duke twice, but the Heels also play Miami and Florida State twice, and both of those teams should factor into the conference race. Virginia Tech, Clemson and Boston College could all serve to boost UNC’s conference win total, but the Heels play each of those teams only once.
By the way: UNC's "Late Night with Roy Williams" is set for Oct. 12, a Friday. An official time has yet to be determined, but it will probably be around 8ish, I'm told. Stay tuned for further details.