This edition of The Dadgum Dispatch is a look ahead to the 2019-2020 schedule. The ACC announced the regular season dates for league games, so now the schedule is complete. Or is it?
While cable providers still wonder whether to pick up the network, the ACC Network is still trying to sort out its actual programming.
The league announced the schedule last Thursday at 9 pm*. Turns out there was scheduled women’s soccer game, Colorado at Florida State, on the network at 7 pm. This soccer game was bananas, and went into overtime delaying the start of the schedule release by about 30 minutes.
The worst part is the ACC Network listed all 20 league games with a time of TBA. The lack of game times with the first game less than two months away is silly.
The network overproduced the schedule release. It doesn’t need a 9 pm announcement without games times. That’s not useful or even the least bit entertaining.
That being said, we’re on to the schedule.
Two Games. Three Days.
While games that are 48 hours apart is the normal cadence in the NCAA Tournament, it’s not always ideal when in league play.
Roy Williams hasn’t been shy about playing games 48 hours apart in league play. He doesn’t really enjoy it when it involves travel because it’s tough to keep your team fresh.
Carolina will play three sets of two games in three days this upcoming season. While its easy to review these sets of games and notice the travel on the backend, it’s more useful to check the travel of opponents as well using the ACC composite schedule.
Saturday, January 25: Miami (home)
Monday, January 27: at NC State
Miami plays at Duke January 21. This is a few days before traveling to Chapel Hill. NC State plays at Georgia Tech January 27, which means the Wolfpack’s travel back to Raleigh exceeds the Tar Heels travel to Raleigh a few days later.
A manageable stretch on paper without knowing actual game times.
Saturday, February 1: Boston College (home)
Monday, February 3: at Florida State
Boston College hosts Louisville January 29, only a few days prior to visiting Chapel Hill. Florida State meets Virginia Tech February 1 in Blacksburg, VA. This means the Seminoles will be traveling slightly farther than the Tar Heels for the meeting 48 hours later (without knowing actual games times).
Not an ideal trip, however, you would rather have Florida State traveling a couple days before than remaining in Tallahassee for the entire weekend.
Saturday, February 15: Virginia (home)
Monday, February 17: at Notre Dame
Virginia hosts Notre Dame February 11 before traveling down to the Old North State to meet Carolina. Notre Dame plays at Duke February 15, less than a $25 Lyft or Uber away from Chapel Hill.
Perhaps, the Irish and the Tar Heels can get on the same plane to fly to South Bend to play on Monday? Of course, we don’t know the actual game times yet.
Almost as if Carolina should be opening the ACC Slate in November in South Bend, and the Irish should stay in the Carolinas for the February meeting with Duke and Carolina. That would be rather cruel for the Irish, but their schedule is already brutal.
Get used to it
While two games in three days isn’t ideal, it’s happened in 13 of the 16 seasons with Roy Williams on the Carolina bench. It’s normal, and the Tar Heels are usually the chief suspect for these types of games for two main reasons.
They’re often good. This means people all over the country care about Carolina, including TV executives. If there are marquee spots, Carolina is going to get a few. Big Monday! Thanks, Big East.
Chapel Hill is centrally located for the ACC. This means travel for opponents and Carolina is somewhat easier when pairing games, and making things fair for both teams.
Tar Heels Travel
Tar Heels will travel quite a bit in the month of December. The December trip to Spokane, WA to play Gonzaga followed by a meeting with UCLA in Las Vegas, NV mixed in with an early conference road game in Charlottesville, VA makes December a busy travel month.
The good news is January is much more manageable, followed by a busy February. An estimated comparison of travel mileage month-by-month:
Most of the month of March could be spent in the Old North State given the ACC Tournament returning to Greensboro and The Gate City hosting the NCAA Tournament First and Second Round.
A full look at the travel destinations on a map . . .
Let’s Get Weird
The league’s first iteration of a 20-game schedule combined with a new network offers some strange scheduling quirks.
Same Opponent Twice in Three Games
Carolina hosts Pittsburgh January 8, plays Clemson January 11 in Chapel Hill, and then travels to Pittsburgh to play the Panthers again January 18. 10 days apart!
The Tar Heels played Virginia nine days apart in 2017, however, both Louisville and Pitt were scheduled in between the two meetings.
The same opponent twice in three games is odd.
Duke on Saturdays
Both Duke games are scheduled on a Saturday. While the second meeting is typically on a Saturday, this is the first time since 1991 the initial meeting between the rivals is not during the middle of the week.
Wake Forest x 2
Since 2010, Carolina has only played Wake Forest twice in the same ACC regular season three times. The Tar Heels play Duke this season before meeting Wake Forest, but play the Demon Deacons twice before the season finale at Duke.
Given the current state of Wake Forest, it could be a lucky break to get them twice.
The Tar Heels host Notre Dame November 6 and play the Irish 103 days later in South Bend, Indiana on February 17. Think about that.
Carolina will be 0-0 in league play and overall before facing the Irish in early November, and the Tar Heels will have played 24 games and 14 league games by the next meeting in February.
Games by Days of the Week
What days of the week do the Tar Heels play?
Saturday: 12 games, including 11 league games
Wednesday: seven games, but just two league games
Monday: four games, including three league games
Tuesday: three games, all ACC opponents
Friday: three games, all non-conference opponents
Sunday: one game in Carmichael!
Thursday: one game on Thanksgiving!
Records by Month
The Tar Heels record by month:
November: 82-17 (0-0 ACC)
December: 89-16 (3-2 ACC)
January: 92-35 (80-33 ACC)
February: 90-32 (89-32 ACC)
March: 93-30 (25-7 ACC)
Carolina winning 74.5% of games in February, March, and April under Roy Williams seems good.
Records by Location
In the Roy Williams Era, Carolina is 225-32 at home. The Tar Heels are 113-62 away from Chapel Hill and 115-39 at neutral site games. This doesn’t include semi-away or semi-home games, so please keep that in mind.
The breakdown of win percentage by location per season shows below:
Carolina has 15 games scheduled at home and 13 games away from home this upcoming season. How will the record shake out?
Throwback to Carmichael
Carolina plays at Carmichael Arena (still feels weird to call it that) for the first time since 2010 this season.
Another scheduling quirk. Winter commencement is scheduled for December 15 in the Dean E. Smith Center on the same day Carolina is slated to host Wofford. The Tar Heels play Gonzaga just 72 hours later in Spokane, WA. So rather than adjust the schedule, Carolina will play in its old home.
Carmichael is much smaller now with a capacity of 6,822. Tickets will likely be bonkers. It would be terrific if only students were allowed, however, a game scheduled in between semesters doesn’t make that seem likely at all.
The Tar Heels did beat William & Mary 80-72 in the NIT in 2010. The Tribe attempted 43 three-point shots and just 19 two-point shots in that game.
The last regular season game in Carmichael came in 1986, a 90-79 win over NC State. The full game is on YouTube, and look who scored the last basket!
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