The release of the ACC basketball schedule in recent years has become a piecemeal process, what with the announcement of key non-conference dates before the announcement of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge before the announcement of various conference dates.
And then, finally, the release of the full ACC schedule. It came out on Wednesday. Here are the highlights for Duke, N.C. State and North Carolina:
1. Six of Duke’s first nine ACC games are on the road, which will undoubtedly test Mike Krzyzewski’s young team. In the Blue Devils’ favor is the fact that only one of those six games is against an NCAA tournament team (at N.C. State Jan. 23), and Duke’s first four games are against four of the five worst teams in the league, based on last year’s standings.
2. There will be no rest for the Blue Devils late in the year: Three of Duke’s last six games are against UNC (twice) and Louisville.
3. Duke has the dreaded two-games-in-three-days swing three times in league play. The toughest short turnaround: at N.C. State Saturday afternoon and at Miami Monday night.
1.What’s this? A home-and-home between N.C. State and Duke? What, was Syracuse busy?
Good of the ACC’s scheduling computer to remember that these Triangle neighbors, who met at least twice year every year from 1925 until 2004, are allowed to play a home-and-home. This is only the fourth time in 12 years since ACC expansion they will meet twice.
Duke has lost its past two trips to PNC Arena while N.C. State has lost 15 straight at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
2. The Wolfpack will play four of its first six ACC games on the road but will welcome Louisville, which is in its second year of conference membership, to Raleigh for the first time since Feb. 1988.
Louisville knocked N.C. State out of the NCAA tournament last March but the Cardinals have lost their last two trips to Raleigh – 101-89 in ’88 and 76-64 in ’86.
3. ESPN likes winners, and after a Sweet 16 appearance last season, the Worldwide Leader has given the Wolfpack a pair of Monday games. N.C. State didn’t play any ACC games on Monday last year.
The Wolfpack will play at Florida State on Feb. 1 (on ESPNU) and at Virginia on Feb. 15 (on ESPN).
1. The UNC-Duke rivalry seems to start later and later every season and this one will be no different. The Tar Heels and Blue Devils don’t play for the first time until Feb. 17 – after UNC will have played 12 conference games. Two of the Tar Heels’ final six ACC games are against Duke.
2. Speaking of the back end of the ACC schedule, it’s a difficult one for UNC. The Tar Heels’ final six games include those two against Duke, but also trips to N.C. State and Virginia, and home games against Miami and Syracuse.
The game at the Smith Center against the Orange on Feb. 29 – which is an ESPN Big Monday game – comes two days after UNC’s game at Virginia. The Tar Heels’ other Big Monday games: at Florida State on Jan. 4 and at Louisville on Feb. 1.
3. If you needed an additional reminder that this is no longer your father’s ACC, UNC at one point plays six consecutive conference games against former Big East teams. Between Jan. 24 and Feb. 14 UNC’s schedule reads like this: at Virginia Tech, vs. Boston College, at Louisville, at Notre Dame, at Boston College, vs. Pittsburgh.