Should North Carolina win the ACC next season, it probably won’t be criticized -- as Virginia was this season -- for catching a break in the schedule.
Virginia won the regular season by playing each of the top seven teams in the standings just one time this past season. That won’t be the case for the Tar Heels next season.
Duke and Louisville are two of the four teams Carolina will play both at home and on the road.
The Blue Devils, armed with the No. 1-ranked recruiting class, and Cardinals, who received a big boost with the return of forward Montrezl Harrell, will be projected to finish near the top of the standings. NC State and Georgia Tech are the Heels' other two home and road opponents.
The Cavaliers return most of their rotation and, despite losing Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell, should be in contention to repeat their title. Carolina again will get only one shot against the Cavs, but it will be at home.
Syracuse has a lot of restructuring to do with the early entries of Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant to the NBA. The Orange will make their first trip to Chapel Hill in the only regular season meeting of the teams.
The Heels will make just their fourth trip to Pittsburgh and their first to the Petersen Events Center. They split with the Panthers this past season, winning in the Dean Smith Center and losing in the ACC tournament.
Pittsburgh will arguably be the toughest of the five road-only opponents. Boston College and Wake Forest are facing rebuilding jobs with new head coaches. Miami’s roster is depleted, and Clemson’s best player, K.J. McDaniels, is reportedly set to declare for the NBA draft.
Carolina’s Marcus Paige will likely be a preseason Player of the Year candidate. And despite the loss of James Michael McAdoo to the NBA draft, the Tar Heels should be a contender for their first regular season ACC title since 2011-12. That’s thanks in part to the addition a freshman class (forwards Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson and point guard Joel Berry) ranked third in the nation.
The league also released its 2015-16 men’s basketball schedules on Tuesday. The dates and times will be announced later.
2014-15 ACC opponents for North Carolina
Home/Road: Duke, NC State, Georgia Tech, Louisville
Home: Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Notre Dame
Road: Miami, Clemson, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Boston College
2015-16 ACC opponents for North Carolina
Home/Road: Duke, NC State, Boston College, Syracuse
Home: Miami, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh
Road: Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Notre Dame