To hear coaches and PR folks tell it, every basketball schedule is daring and difficult. Just count the number of opponents they face that were in the NCAAs last year!
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Never mind that the majority of those estimable teams were ACC members, and not to be avoided. Or that last year's proud opponent from outside the conference may have lost a critical sprinkling of starters. After all, not many coaches have the recruiting clout of a Mike Krzyzewski, able to replace Andre Dawkins, Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker and Tyler Thornton with four McDonald's All-Americas.
Only the most stable programs can flow from season to season without missing a beat. Or two. And no one can fully take into account the impact of the unpredictable twists apt to sap a squad - injury, illness, clashing personalities, bad turns of momentum, off-court scandal, untimely distractions.
We prefer to take all the hype with a grain of artificial salt (what, no one's come up with that yet for folks with high blood pressure?!) Instead, we recommend examining how each ACC team's schedule is structured, and what that might say about a coach's desire to test or protect his squad.
Note that Syracuse, as usual, stocked up on home games. So did N.C. State. Both play 20 times on friendly courts and open with extended homestands. You can't blame the Orange too much; the Carrier Dome becomes a very large piggy bank when crammed with fans.
The Wolfpack also wins the award for the most, ahem, unambitious travel schedule. Mark Gottfried's Pack is torn loose once from home between Nov. 14 through Dec. 17 when required to play at Purdue in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge.
On the other side of the coin, the longest runs of games away from home - five - belong to Miami and Pitt. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, who draw poorly at home in most circumstances, they need the revenue likely to accrue from playing on the road.
The most frequent wanderer is North Carolina, with but 15 outings at the Smith Center. Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami and Virginia each play 16 times on their home courts. As usual the Blue Devils dare a single game on a hostile floor, a required trip to Wisconsin in the ACC/Big Ten event.
|PATTERNS BEHIND THE PABLUM
How Schedules Are Shaped in 2014-15
|H Open||H @ End||Longest
|C||17||2, 6 of 9||2 of 3||4, 7 of 8||3 (J7-13)|
|D||16||2||2 of 3||3, 6 of 8||3 (twice)|
|FS||18||2||2||4, 9 of 11||2 (4 times)*|
|GT||16||3||2 of 3||3, 6 of 9||4 (N27-D3)*|
|UL||19||1, 6 of 7||2||6, 7 of 8||2 (3 times)|
|UM||16||1||2 of 4||5, 8 of 9||5 (N17-25)*|
|NC||15||2||3 of 5||2, 4 of 5||4 (N22-28)*|
|NS||20||6, 10 of 11||1||6, 10 of 11||3 (F24-M3)|
|ND||19||3, 9 of 11||2 of 3||6, 9 of 10||2 (3 times)*|
|PU||18||2||2 of 4||6, 9 of 11||5 (N21-D2)*|
|SU||20$||6, 11 of 13$||1||3, 5 of 6||2 (4 times)|
|V||16||0, 4 of 5||1||4, 6 of 9||4 (N28-D6)*|
|VT||18||3||3 of 4||5, 6 of 7||3 (twice)|
|WF||18||1, 6 of 8||2 of 4||5, 11 of 14||2 (4 times)*|
|* Includes in-season tournament.
$ Includes out-of-state opponents at Madison Square Garden.