As usual, DukeÂ has scheduled some interesting games. Davidson and Kansas are up early, with Kansas in Chicago and Davidson in Cameron.
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Florida Atlantic follows Kansas. UNC-Asheville and the winner of ECU-Norfolk State kick off the Cameron part of the Preseason NIT, with Vermont sandwiched in between those games and New York. Alabama, Arizona, Duke and Rutgers are hosting pods and will be the favorites. A Duke-Arizona game would be really good.
Duke follows that with Michigan at home for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Gardner-Webb is at home followed by UCLA in the Garden. Eastern Michigan closes the non-conference games.
We don't really get that much into the handicapping-the-unbalanced-schedule business because you have to play all the games and deal with whatever injuries come along.
As for State, it's a rebuilding year for the Pack. Even so, the schedule is at least as good and probably better than anything Herb Sendek or Sidney Lowe ever put together.
State kicks off with Morehouse and Appalachian before venturing to Cincinnati, a game Herb Sendek would've kept the hell out of his daytight compartments.
State has a long homestand with Campbell, NCCU, Eastern Kentucky, Long Beach State and Detroit in Reynolds.
Then the Pack has a game against Tennessee. ECU is another likely lesser game, though Jeff Lebo seems to be making some progress, before Missouri comes calling. UNC-G closes out the non-con games.
As for the Heels, UNC has a bit more lined up. It's pretty impressive actually.
UNC starts with Oakland, a team capable of causing trouble.
Holy Cross (trivia: isn't that where 7-5 Neal Fingleton transferred to after leaving UNC?) comes to the Dean Dome - not a powerful team but capable every so often. Belmont, as Duke can attest, is a very dangerous team, as is Richmond. UNC may (should) play Louisville in the Hall Of Fame Tip-off Finals.
UAB is a basketball school but Jerod Haase - the game is a favor to Ol' Roy's former assistant - is in rebuild mode.
Same for Wes Miller's UNCG squad. Then it's Kentucky, Texas, Davidson, Northern Kentucky and Wilmington before starting ACC play.
And Wake? The Deacs have Brevard, Colgate, VMI, Presbyterian, Jacksonville, The Citadel (coached by Chuck Driesell), before heading off to the Bahamas for the major part of the Battle4Atlantis.
Wake has a huge chance with Kansas: win that game and things change dramatically. Do well and at least gain respect.
Failing a major upset, the Deacs have other chances on Paradise Island: USC, Villanova, Iowa, Tennessee, UTEP and Xavier are all in the field. Tulane, Richmond, St. Bonnie's, UNC and Xavier (The Skip Prosser Classic) round out the non-conference games.
It's a schedule designed for a rebuilding program, as is State's.
Duke and UNC scheduled like teams expecting deep March runs. With Davidson, Kansas, potentially Arizona, Michigan and UCLA, Duke will be seasoned by the time ACC play rolls around.
As for the Heels, playing for a while without PJ Hairston will hurt, but maybe not as much as people think, although it could really hurt against three-point happy Belmont. That team can hurt you in a hurry. Marcus Paige or someone will have to respond. We're not sure what Leslie McDonald's status is but he could certainly help.
Louisville will be a significant challenge (if the Heels play the Cards, which seems likely), as will Michigan State and Kentucky. All three of those games will be between November 24th and December 14th.
Hayes Permar's taunt (he released a parody song titled "PJ Will be back for Kentucky.") could actually be relevant: UNC is highly sensitive at any time about criticisms, but in light of the scandals, that song might hit home around the athletic department.
Against Belmont, the Heels could really use his shooting. Against the likes of Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky, his experience will be greatly missed.