North Carolina on Wednesday released its 2016-17 nonconference men’s basketball schedule, filling in the gaps around a trio of anticipated road trips that could provide travel-minded Tar Heels fans with a worthy excuse to plan an enviable vacation or two.
UNC will begin the regular season Nov. 11 in New Orleans, at Tulane. One week later, the Tar Heels will travel to Hawaii, first for a Nov. 18 game at Hawaii in Honolulu and then for the three-day Maui Invitational, which will begin Nov. 21 in Maui.
A few weeks later, UNC will play on Dec. 17 against Kentucky in Las Vegas in the CBS Sports Classic. In addition to those trips, the Tar Heels will travel to Bloomington, Ind. , which might be less exotic but offers no less important of a test.
There UNC will play against Indiana in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 30. The Tar Heels also traveled to Maui and Bloomington in 2012, when UNC lost against Butler in the Maui Invitational before enduring a one-sided defeat at Indiana not long after.
The Tar Heels haven’t been back to Maui since, given the NCAA rule that precludes teams from participating in the same pre-conference season tournament more than once every four years. Maui is home to UNC coach Roy Williams’ favorite November tournament, and so UNC participates as often as possible.
The bracket for the Maui Invitational hasn’t been announced but, as usual, it will boast an enticing field. In addition to UNC, Connecticut, Georgetown, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Tennessee and Wisconsin also will be there. Connecticut, Oregon and Wisconsin played in the NCAA tournament last season, and Oregon advanced to the West Region championship game.
If the Tar Heels play against Tennessee in Maui, then the teams would play twice next season. They’re also scheduled to play at the Smith Center on Dec. 11.
UNC’s nonconference home schedule also will include games against Chattanooga (Nov. 13), Long Beach State (Nov. 15), Radford (Dec. 4), Davidson (Dec. 7), Northern Iowa (Dec. 21) and Monmouth (Dec. 28). Monmouth’s coach is King Rice, a fomer UNC point guard.
The Tar Heels’ game against Northern Iowa is a return game after UNC played at Northern Iowa last November. UNC suffered its first defeat of the season there, a 71-67 loss in what had been scheduled as a homecoming for Marcus Paige, the departed senior guard who is an Iowa native.
UNC’s nonconference schedule also will include at least five games against teams that made the NCAA tournament last season. Depending on the pairings of the Maui Invitational, the Tar Heels could play as many as eight nonconference games against 2016 NCAA tournament teams.
The Tar Heels have won the Maui Invitational three times, in 1999, 2004 and 2008. The game at Indiana is a rematch of UNC’s 101-86 victory against the Hoosiers in March in the NCAA tournament East Regional semifinals.
UNC’s game against Kentucky represents the resumption of an fierce nonconference rivalry. The Tar Heels and Wildcats will be playing against each other for the 16th time since 2000, though this is the first neutral-site game between the teams since the 2011 NCAA tournament.
The ACC schedule will be announced at a later date, though the location of games has been determined. UNC will play home and away against Duke, N.C. State, Pitt and Virginia.
The Tar Heels will play once, at home, against Florida State, Louisville, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. UNC will play once, on the road, against Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami and Wake Forest.
UNC’s 2016-17 nonconference schedule
Nov. 4: vs. UNC Pembroke (exhibition in Chapel Hill)
Nov. 11: at Tulane (New Orleans)
Nov. 13: vs. Chattanooga (Maui Invitational in Chapel Hill)
Nov. 15: vs. Long Beach State (Chapel Hill)
Nov. 18: at Hawaii (Honolulu)
Nov. 21-23: Maui Invitational (Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii)
Nov. 30: at Indiana (ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Bloomington, Ind.)
Dec. 4: vs. Radford (Chapel Hill)
Dec. 7: vs. Davidson (Chapel Hill)
Dec. 11: vs. Tennessee (Chapel Hill)
Dec. 17: vs. Kentucky (CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas)
Dec. 21: vs. Northern Iowa (Chapel Hill)
Dec. 28: vs. Monmouth (Chapel Hill)