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A Look At ACC Openers

Overture, curtain, lights!

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 29 Duke at Louisville
 LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 29: Duke Blue Devils assistant coach Jon Scheyer looks on during a college basketball game against the Louisville Cardinals on Jan. 29, 2022 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Men’s basketball teams uniformly start practice on October 15 (there are occasional exceptions). So it’s understandable to suppose official play would similarly commence on a uniform date too.

Theoretically, yes. Actually, no.

Sometimes ACC teams debut with a single, sweeping flourish in step with most of the NCAA, everyone able to see and compete against fresh faces in the first or, more often, second week in November. Other times it’s a staggered start, as in 2019-20, when only four ACC teams began play on Nov. 5, led by heavyweights Kansas and Duke facing off in New York.

That was the year the ACC launched a salvo of seven league matchups over the first few days of competition in an attempt to goose early excitement. (Its teams finished 7-7. What did you expect?)

In 2022-23 Louisville and Notre Dame are the exceptions to the general Nov. 7 start, beginning their seasons two days after everyone else. Last season 12 teams started together, then two the next day, with Notre Dame debuting four days after everyone else.

This year it feels like the season is starting earlier than usual, but as the following chart attests that’s not quite the case. To be sure, Nov. 7 is early, but the 2019 and 2020 seasons started earlier and the 2013 and 2014 seasons started a mere day later.

The earliest recent start, Nov. 5, came in 2019-20. The latest was the COVID-afflicted 2020-21 season, which launched on Nov. 25. Most often seasons tip off in the second week of November – 10 of the last 13 times, not counting the ’21 campaign.

No ACC teams start this season with a Power 5 or otherwise formidable opponent. The most interesting opener, certainly from a Duke perspective, pits NC State against Austin Peay on Nov. 7. The Governors are coached by former Blue Devil and Coach K assistant Nate James. Jason Stone-Carrawell, a 6-7, sophomore red-shirt for Austin-Peay, is the son of current Duke associate head coach Chris Carrawell, who counts James among his best friends.

Dates Of ACC Openers

Season Start ACC Teams To Start Together Outliers
2023 Nov. 7 13 UL, ND
2022 Nov. 9 12 FS,WF, ND
2021 Nov. 25 10 D,NC,ND,SU,FS
2020 Nov. 5 4 (UM,D,C,NS) BC,NC,UP,SU,C,UM,VT,ND,FS,WF,UL
2019 Nov. 6 10 UL,GT,UM,VT,WF
2018 Nov. 10 10 VT,D,ND,UL,FS
2017 Nov. 11 13 FS, ND
2016 Nov. 13 12 BC,VT,D
2015 Nov. 14 14 FS
2014 Nov. 8 14 (of 15) VT
2013 Nov. 8 9 VT,BC,NC
2012 Nov.11 8 VT,V,Md.,BC
2011 Nov.12 10 Md. (1/8),D
2010 Nov.13 6 (of 12) NC (11/9),NS,UM,GT,VT,FS