Here's a quick look at some of the best non-conference games this year. A number of schools, having learned that you can't just show up with wins over weak teams and get a bid, have improved their schedules a good deal.Â It should make for better basketball. One other quick note:Â With the new contract, CBS is almost shut out of ACC games.Â Check it out: there are more games on ESPN3 than CBS.
2011-12 ACC National Appearances Breakdown
|CBS College Sports||1||1|
|National TV (other)||3||3|
Friday, November 11
Michigan State vs. North Carolina
First ever game on an aircraft carrier, weather permitting. Should be pretty interesting.Â Who knows how to shoot with (or against) the wind?
Sunday, November 13
UNC Wilmington at Maryland
Wilmington almost upset Maryland the year after they won the title. More importantly, this game will be a test of Maryland's progress under Mark Turgeon.Â They should win, but with a thin roster, few big men and a new system, it's hard to say. To be clear, we have no clue about Wilmington. This is a test of Maryland when they're vulnerable.
Tuesday, November 15
Michigan State vs. Duke
Rutgers at Miami
Duke's first trip to the Garden should be a chance to put Coach K past Bob Knight.Â Think they'll be motivated?Â And Rutgers is a fast-improving program.Â Good test for Jim Larranaga's new squad.
Wednesday, November 16
Princeton vs. NC State
Slow-motion terror: can State's young players handle the pressure of having to score against PU?Â It's not much fun and young teams are vulnerable.
Thursday, November 17
Maryland vs. Alabama
Another progress game. We'll see how they do.
Saturday, November 19
NC State vs. Vanderbilt
Same here, but Mark Gottfried knows how Kevin Stallings operates.Â The benches (under the basket at Vandy) could make life tough for the young Pack.Â Gottfried has dealt with it before.
Sunday, November 20
N.C. Central at Wake Forest
If Wake loses, you can call the moving vans for Jeff Bzdelik.Â He won't survive another season like last year's.
Monday, November 21
Duke vs. Tennessee
NC State vs. Texas/Oregon State
Duke vs. rising coaching star Cuonzo Martin: fun, fun.Â And give State credit for a tougher schedule.Â The Sendek/Lowe pattern of weak
Tuesday, November 22
Coastal Carolina at Clemson
Clif Ellis returns to Littlejohn: 'nuff said.
Friday, November 25
North Carolina vs. South Carolina
Tuesday, November 29
Michigan at Virginia (Big Ten/ACC Challenge) ESPN2 7:00
Northwestern at Georgia Tech (Big Ten/ACC Challenge) ESPNU 7:15
Illinois at Maryland (Big Ten/ACC Challenge) ESPN 7:30
Miami at Purdue (Big Ten/ACC Challenge) ESPN2 9:00
Clemson at Iowa (Big Ten/ACC Challenge) ESPNU 9:15
Duke at Ohio State (Big Ten/ACC Challenge) ESPN 9:30
Wednesday, November 30
Penn State at Boston College (Big Ten/ACC Challenge) ESPNU 7:15
Indiana at NC State (Big Ten/ACC Challenge) ESPN2 7:15
Florida State at Michigan State (Big Ten/ACC Challenge) ESPN 7:30
Virginia Tech at Minnesota (Big Ten/ACC Challenge) ESPN2 9:15
Wake Forest at Nebraska (Big Ten/ACC Challenge) ESPNU 9:15
Wisconsin at North Carolina (Big Ten/ACC Challenge) ESPN 9:30
The Challenge is always fun and instructive.Â We'll deal with this more later.
Saturday, December 3
North Carolina at Kentucky
Duke is first on Kentucky's hate-em, list, but UNC is a close second.Â Should be fun again.
Sunday, December 4
Notre Dame vs. Maryland - progress game.
NC State at Stanford - A good game for two improving programs.
Kansas State at Virginia Tech - Tech has to play these games and good for them for doing it.
Wednesday, December 7
Virginia Tech at Rhode Island - Rhody is tough.Â Can Tech win this on the road? We're skeptical but impressed they're trying it.
Saturday, December 10
Washington vs. Duke - Highly athletic UDub is a good Garden opponent.
Miami at West Virginia - Won't be easy but should be fun.
Clemson at Arizona - Wow, ACC teams are actually scheduling toughies! Excellent!
Wake Forest at Seton Hall - A good progress game.
Saturday, December 17
Syracuse at NC State - Princeton, Vandy, Stanford and Syracuse? Maybe the Pack is getting serious at long last...
Sunday, December 18
Virginia at Oregon - A long and dangerous trip.Â Nice mid-level opponent for improving UVa.Â Tony Bennett knows the ropes out here too.
Wednesday, December 21
Texas at North Carolina - Always fun to get Rick Barnes wound up for UNC.
Virginia at Seattle - Risky part of the West Coast swing.Â Could be a painful loss.
Thursday, December 22
Clemson vs. UTEP - Beats S.C. State, know what I mean Vern?Â The message appears to be sinking in.
Florida State at Florida - Florida will be favored, but FSU's defense is becoming a real force.
Friday, December 30
Princeton at Florida State - Most interesting, but FSU should win.Â New coach and all.Â Mitch Henderson is steeped in the system though.
Saturday, December 31
Virginia Tech at Oklahoma State - Travis Ford is going to speed things up out there, but he's not there yet. Still, they'll beat Tech.
Monday, January 2
Virginia at LSU - The Tigers have struggled lately but it beats Mercer.Â UVa has a chance here.
Tuesday, January 3Â
Alabama at Georgia Tech - Progress game.
Wednesday, January 4
Duke at Temple - Not as good as the Cheney years, but still a good rivalry. And Temple is very well coached.
Wednesday, January 25
Brigham Young at Virginia Tech - A reasonable appeal to RPI land.Â Good for Tech.Â No guarantees though.
Saturday, January 28Â
St. John's at Duke - Duke got embarrassed last season. Don't think they've forgotten.