The marquee early-season games of the college basketball season have been known for a while: Duke playing Kansas and Michigan, North Carolina playing Michigan State and Kentucky, N.C. State going against Cincinnati.
At last, though, the ACC on Thursday released the conference portion of the 2013-14 mens basketball schedule. And with that, ACC schools released their complete schedules. Good thing, given practice can begin in a little more than a month.
Here are some first impressions on the schedules for Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State:
• The ACC schedule starts with a bang. The Joyce is one of the toughest college basketball arenas for visitors. Notre Dame has a 117-9 (.929) record at home since 2006-07, which ranks as the nations second-best home winning percentage behind only Kansas (.960).
• The Saturday-Monday turnaround is the new Thursday-Saturday: two games in three days. Coaches hate it, but its the best worst-case scenario for Duke the first time, traveling to face what will be a weak Clemson squad Saturday afternoon before hosting Virginia on Monday night.
• Dukes off week during ACC play comes as late as it possibly could, during the penultimate week of league play. Could be a nice time to rest and recover before the final UNC game and postseason play.
• Everyone wants to know when P.J. Hairston, the Tar Heels leading scorer, will return from his suspension. Bubba Cunningham, the UNC athletic director, acknowledged recently that Hairston will play this season, but not in all games.
UNC will likely play against Louisville on Nov. 24 in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. Thatd be the Tar Heels fifth game. The Michigan State game is UNCs seventh of the season, and the Dec. 14 game against Kentucky will be UNCs ninth of the season. Its unlikely Hairston returns before that one.
• After some exotic trips in recent seasons the Tar Heels in 2011 played on an aircraft carrier and in Las Vegas, and then went to Maui last November the sights will be a little less scenic this year. There is no aircraft carrier, no Vegas and no Hawaii on schedule. But we hear Uncasville, Conn., where UNC travels for the Hall of Fame Tip-Off in November, is lovely that time of year. And if not, theres always East Lansing, Mich., in early December.
• UNCs off week in ACC play comes early. After the Tar Heels play at Syracuse on Jan. 11, their next game comes at home against Boston College on Jan. 18. UNC does have three quick Saturday-Monday turnarounds. One of them comes after that Boston College game on Jan. 18, when the Tar Heels play at Virginia two days later. The other two: Feb. 15 and 17 (vs. Pitt and at Florida State) and March 1 and 3 (at Virginia Tech and vs. Notre Dame).
• Mark Gottfried will get his wish: The Wolfpack will play 18 games against 16 teams that made a postseason tournament last season. Ten of those games will be against NCAA tournament teams.
I always want a difficult schedule, Gottfried said in a release. I want to be aggressive even in a year when we are so young and inexperienced.
• The Wolfpacks first ACC road game is at league newcomer Notre Dame on Jan. 7. The Wolfpack also travels to Syracuse on Feb. 15 and Pittsburgh on March 3.
• The first three weeks of February could determine the Wolfpacks postseason hopes. They play five of six games on the road, beginning at rival North Carolina on Feb. 1. They end that stretch by hosting the Tar Heels on Feb. 26.
Mens basketball Schdule
Duke Mens Basketball ACC Schedule
Jan. 4, at Notre Dame, 4 p.m.
Jan. 7, Georgia Tech, 7 p.m.
Jan. 11, at Clemson, 2 p.m.
Jan. 13, Virginia, 7 p.m.
Jan. 18, N.C. State, 2 p.m.
Jan. 22, at Miami, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 25, Florida State, 12 p.m.
Jan. 27, at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Feb. 1, at Syracuse, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 4, Wake Forest, 9 p.m.
Feb. 8, at Boston College, 6 p.m.
Feb. 12, at North Carolina, 9 p.m.
Feb. 15, Maryland, 6 p.m.
Feb. 18, at Georgia Tech, 9 p.m.
Feb. 22, Syracuse, 6 p.m.
Feb. 25, Virginia Tech, 7 p.m.
March 5, at Wake Forest, 7 p.m.
March 8, North Carolina, 9 p.m.
North Carolina Mens Basketball ACC Schedule
Jan. 5, at Wake Forest, 8 p.m.
Jan. 8, Miami, 9 p.m.
Jan. 11, at Syracuse, 12 p.m.
Jan. 18, Boston College, 12 p.m.
Jan. 20, at Virginia, 7 p.m.
Jan. 26, Clemson, 6 p.m.
Jan. 29, at Georgia Tech, 7 p.m.
Feb. 1, N.C. State, 2 p.m.
Feb. 4, Maryland, 8 p.m.
Feb. 8, at Notre Dame, 12 p.m.
Feb. 12, Duke, 9 p.m.
Feb. 15, Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Feb. 17, at Florida State, 7 p.m.
Feb. 22, Wake Forest, 12 p.m.
Feb. 26, at N.C. State, 8 p.m.
March 1, at Virginia Tech, 2:30 p.m.
March 3, Notre Dame, 7 p.m.
March 8, at Duke, 9 p.m.
N.C. State Mens Basketball ACC Schedule
Jan. 1, Pittsburgh, 12 p.m.
Jan. 7, at Notre Dame, 9 p.m.
Jan. 11, Virginia, 5 p.m.
Jan. 15, at Wake Forest, 9 p.m.
Jan. 18, at Duke, 2 p.m.
Jan. 20, Maryland, 9 p.m.
Jan. 26, Georgia Tech, 1 p.m.
Jan. 29, Florida State, 9 p.m.
Feb. 1, at North Carolina, 2 p.m.
Feb. 8, at Miami, 2 p.m.
Feb. 11, Wake Forest, 7 p.m.
Feb. 15, at Syracuse, 3 p.m.
Feb. 18, at Clemson, 7 p.m.
Feb. 22, at Virginia Tech, 2 p.m.
Feb. 26, North Carolina, 8 p.m.
March 1, Miami, 12 p.m.
March 3, at Pittsburgh, 9 p.m.
March 9, Boston College, 6 p.m.