North Carolina’s defeat in the Sweet 16 as a No. 1 seed last season wasn’t how the Tar Heels envisioned their season ending.
UNC finished last year’s regular season 26-5, despite a difficult schedule. The Tar Heels were in good position to go far in the NCAA tournament, but ran into a hot Auburn team.
For the Tar Heels to get themselves in a similar position this season, they’ll have to get through another difficult schedule with some tough road games.
The schedule includes home and away games against Virginia, the defending national champs, home and away games against Duke and N.C. State, and road games at Louisville and Gonzaga.
The Tar Heels could face the Zags a second time if the two teams meet in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Here are some key dates on UNC’s schedule:
Mark the calendar
Nov. 27-29, Battle 4 Atlantis
The Tar Heels’ first test of the season comes in Nassau, Bahamas at the Battle 4 Atlantis. The tournament includes Michigan, Gonzaga, Alabama, Oregon, Iowa State, Seton Hall and Southern Mississippi. UNC will face Alabama in the first game, and could face Iowa State or Michigan in the second game.
Nov. 20 vs. Elon
Each year, programs have multiple “tune-up games,” or easy home games, and this is one of them for UNC. It comes right before the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Best road trip
Dec. 7 or 8 at Virginia
This season, UNC gets to play Virginia twice, once at home and once on the road. It will easily be one of the Tar Heels’ toughest games of the season. The Tar Heels lost to Virginia, 69-61, at home last season, and the Cavaliers went on to win the national title.
Most difficult stretch
Dec. 4-18 (Ohio State, Virginia, Wofford, at Gonzaga)
The Tar Heels will face four consecutive NCAA tournament teams from Dec. 4 to Dec. 18, starting at home against Ohio State on Dec. 4 and ending a road game against Gonzaga on Dec. 18. Between those two games, UNC will face Virginia on the road on Dec. 8 and Wofford at home on Dec. 15.
Ohio State finished 20-15 last season and lost to Houston in the NCAA tournament’s Round of 32. Wofford upset UNC 79-75 in Chapel Hill in 2017. But the Tar Heels got their revenge on the road, 78-67, in their 2018 season-opener.
Gonzaga is always tough. The Tar Heels got the best of the Zags last season, 103-90, in Chapel Hill.
Nov. 8-20 (UNC-Wilmington, Gardner-Webb, Elon)
The Tar Heels go up against three straight teams they should beat easily. UNC played both UNCW and Elon last season and beat the two teams by a combined 77 points.
Gardner-Webb made it to the NCAA tournament last season but was a No. 16 seed.
Three games to know
Feb. 22 at Louisville.
The Cardinals return a few key starters in Chris Mack’s second season at the school. The two teams, which play only once this year, split the series last season, with both teams winning on the road. Last season, when the Tar Heels lost to Louisville, 83-62, it was their worst game of the season. But it also helped turn their season around. The Tar Heels won 15 of their next 16 games.
Jan. 27 at N.C. State
The Tar Heels swept N.C. State last season. UNC won in Raleigh 90-82, and then in Chapel Hill 113-96. It’ll be a huge game for fans. The Tar Heels are 3-1 against the Wolfpack since Kevin Keatts became head coach.
March 7 at Duke
Honestly, did you really think I’d leave this game out? This is always the biggest game of the season for both teams. UNC beat Duke twice in the 2018-19 regular season, both times without Zion Williamson, who injured his knee in the first few seconds of the first game. But Duke got revenge in the semifinals of the ACC tournament with a healthy Williamson, who was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft in June.
UNC basketball schedule
Sept. 27 Late Night with Roy 8 p.m.
Nov. 1 Winston Salem State (preseason game) 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 6 Notre Dame, 7 p.m., ACC Network
Nov. 8 at UNC-Wilmington, 7 p.m., FloSports
Nov. 15 Gardner Webb, 9 p.m., ACC Network
Nov. 20 vs. Elon (Battle 4 Atlantis) in Chapel Hill, 8:30 p.m., RSN
Nov. 27 vs. Alabama* (Battle 4 Atlantis) in Nassau, Bahamas, 2:30 p.m., ESPN/2
Nov. 28 vs. Michigan or Iowa State* (Battle 4 Atlantis) in Nassau, Bahamas, 1:30 p.m./6:30 p.m., ESPN/2/U
Nov. 29 vs. Gonzaga, Oregon, Seton Hall or Southern Mississippi* (Battle 4 Atlantis) in Nassau, Bahamas, ESPN/2/U/News
Dec. 4 Ohio State (ACC/Big Ten Challenge) 9:30 p.m. ,ESPN
Dec. 8 at Virginia, 4 p.m., ACC Network
Dec. 15 Wofford, 4 p.m., ACC Network
Dec. 18 at Gonzaga, 9 p.m., ESPN2
Dec. 21 vs. UCLA* (CBS Sports Classic) in Las Vegas, 3 p.m., CBS
Dec. 30 Yale, 7 p.m., ACC Network
Jan. 4 Georgia Tech, 6 p.m, ACC Network
Jan. 8 Pitt, 7 p.m., ACC Network
Jan. 11 Clemson, 4:30 p.m., Fox Sports South
Jan. 18 at Pittsburgh, noon, ESPN/2/U
Jan. 22 at Virginia Tech, 8 p.m., ACC Network
Jan. 25 Miami, noon, ESPN/2/U/ACC Network
Jan. 27 at N.C. State, 7 p.m., ESPN
Feb. 1 Boston College, 6 or 8 p.m., ACC Network
Feb. 3 at Florida State, 7 p.m., ESPN
Feb. 8 Duke, 6 p.m., ESPN
Feb. 11 at Wake Forest, 8 p.m., ACC Network
Feb. 15 Virginia, 6 or 8 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2
Feb. 17 at Notre Dame, 7 p.m., ESPN
Feb. 22 at Louisville, 6 or 8 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2
Feb. 25 N.C. State, 9 p.m., ESPN/2/U
Feb. 29 at Syracuse, 4, 6 or 8 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2
March 3 Wake Forest, 7 p.m., ESPN/2/U/ACC Network
March 7 at Duke, 6 p.m., ESPN
March 10-14 ACC tournament at Greensboro
*Neutral site games
*Neutral site games