UNC Now

Virginia. Duke. Gonzaga. Ohio State. An analysis of UNC’s 2019-20 basketball schedule.

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.

Why?

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.

Easiest stretch

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.

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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

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Jonathan M. Alexander has been covering the North Carolina Tar Heels since May 2018. He previously covered Duke basketball and recruiting in the ACC. He is an alumnus of N.C. Central University.
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