State Now

Battle 4 Atlantis, Penn State will headline NC State’s hoops schedule

There’s a chance N.C. State could face four major conference opponents outside its ACC schedule this college basketball season.

The Wolfpack could face three in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas in November and will host Penn State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 29.

Other than that, the nonconference schedule will likely be light on name-brand opponents and road trips. Coach Kevin Keatts talked about his scheduling philosophy on Tuesday but didn’t offer any details about the slate for his first Wolfpack team. The schedule is expected to be announced in late August or early September.

“My scheduling philosophy is schedule to how good your team is,” Keatts said.

N.C. State went 15-17 overall last season and has posted consecutive losing seasons. Keatts was hired in March to replace Mark Gottfried and has been working on putting together the nonconference schedule.

Gottfried had a specific scheduling philosophy to find as many games as possible to help the team’s RPI and NCAA tournament resume. That meant facing some teams (St. Bonaventure on the road in 2012, N.C. Central in 2014, Wofford in 2015) who ended up either in the NCAA tournament, beating the Wolfpack or both.

The trip to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis was scheduled last year under Gottfried. The eight-team field includes Arizona, Villanova, Purdue and Tennessee. The matchups have not been announced for the Thanksgiving week tournament. SMU, Northern Iowa and Western Kentucky are also in the field.

The Big Ten Challenge matchup, arranged by the conference office, is the only game officially on N.C. State’s schedule. VMI is expected to be the Wolfpack’s opponent for the season opener. Other than the trip to the Bahamas, N.C. State is unlikely to leave Raleigh before ACC play.

That could change. Keatts said on Tuesday he still had a couple of games to add to the schedule. N.C. State played 13 nonconference games last season and will likely again in 2017-18.

Gottfried finished off contracted home-and-home games with Missouri, South Florida and Tennessee at the end of his tenure.

In the ACC, N.C. State will face North Carolina, Wake Forest, Clemson and Notre Dame home and away. Florida State, Miami, Duke, Louisville and Boston College in home-only games. Georgia Tech, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and Syracuse in road-only games.

The team will be tested enough by the ACC schedule, Keatts said. He figures there could be as many as 15 games against teams ranked in the top 50 of the RPI, plus the games from the Battle 4 Atlantis.

For this team, it was important to get “a mixture of some games where we can gain some confidence in,” Keatts said.

“As we advance the program, I would love to do more home-and-home (deals) with top, Power 5 teams, if we can,” Keatts said. “You have to find a great balance between your nonconference and your conference games.”

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio