Happy Halloween: Tricks or Treats Around the ACC

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on October 31st, 2016

In the spirit of Halloween, let’s examine some potentially spooky scheduling situations facing ACC squads this season. We all experience anxiety about frightening things that we know are in our future, but sometimes we can also get a good scare from an unexpected source. Below we will present examples of both types of hair-raising situations.

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Fright Night: Potentially Scary Non-Conference Match-ups

When schools release their non-conference schedules over the summer, most fans focus on the name-brand opponents first. This frequently means that they fail to notice some of the tricky mid-major schools on the ledger — teams that are often as good or better than many power conference schools. Below is a list of such frightening opponents for ACC teams this year. Beware of these so-called “buy” games, and don’t be surprised if some of these teams put a real scare into your favorite ACC squad. (preseason KenPom ranking in parenthesis)

  • November 11 – Eastern Michigan (#88) at Pittsburgh – The top four scorers return for the Eagles, the second highest-rated team in the MAC (KenPom’s ninth-best conference in the preseason).
  • November 13 – Chattanooga (#93) at North Carolina  The Mocs are coming off a 29-6 year as the defending Southern Conference champs. They return four starters and will expect to be in the Big Dance again next March.
  • November 15 – Iona (#102) at Florida State Normally a mid-major school that loses four key players wouldn’t represent that much of a threat, but Iona is a program that wins at a high level year after year. The Gaels have won at least 20 games in each of Tom Cluess’ six seasons at the helm.

  • November 17 – Long Beach State (#118) at Louisville – The 49ers return seven players who averaged at least 14.0 MPG and won’t be overwhelmed by playing a national power. Don Monson’s last five teams have each finished with the nation’s most difficult non-conference schedule, according to KenPom.
  • November 18 – Monmouth (#94) at Syracuse – King Rice returns seven of his top eight players from a team that amazingly knocked off four major conference opponents a year ago. The Hawks were snubbed by the NCAA Selection Committee last year, so they will have an additional chip on their shoulder when they arrive at the Carrier Dome next month.
  • November 20 – Yale (#116) at Virginia – The Bulldogs lost three starters from a team that won the Ivy League and upset Baylor in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. But one of the returnees is outstanding point guard Makai Mason, who led the team in scoring and assists.
  • December 6 – IPFW (#126) at Notre Dame With one of the best nicknames in college basketball, the Mastodons from Fort Wayne are preseason favorites in an underrated league (the Summit League was ranked 15th by KenPom last season).
  • December 28 – UNCW (#72) at Clemson – The Seahawks return four starters from their Colonial championship team that finished with a 25-8 record. They also gave a good account of themselves in the NCAA Tournament, leading Duke by three at the half before ultimately falling, 93-85.

Trip Through The Graveyard – Haunted ACC Schedule Stretches

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Let’s now present some ACC conference scheduling nightmares. With as many as 12 ACC teams harboring realistic NCAA Tournament aspirations, every school is bound to consider its schedule especially difficult. But we found three instances where schools will face a stretch of ACC games that will make their coaches shudder with dread.

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The Irish are the only team in the league that will play five games in a period of 13 days. If that’s not bad enough, the first three of those are on the road and include two long trips to Florida. But don’t feel too badly for Mike Brey — the Irish will get two games each with Boston College and Georgia Tech this year.

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What a way for Miami (FL) to close out the season. In this five-game stretch, the Hurricanes face two quick Saturday/Monday turnarounds that feature long road trips (Miami to Virginia, twice) on the back end. After Jim Larranaga’s team fights through those two weeks, it will have to travel to Tallahassee to face their intrastate rival.

unc-schOnly North Carolina has a tougher finishing schedule than Miami. Honestly, this is the toughest seven-game stretch we can ever remember seeing in ACC play — the Tar Heels will play two games each with preseason top-10 teams Duke and Virginia; two other tough road assignments at NC State and Pittsburgh; and just for fun, a home game versus perennial power Louisville. Wow! Roy Williams better plan on getting off to a great start in league play, because finishing strong will be quite the challenge this season.

Brad Jenkins (271 Posts)


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