As I write this, the North Carolina men’s basketball team just finished off their second win of the 2009-10 season against North Carolina Central. The University of Kentucky squad will play their first game this Friday, November 13th against Morehead State. That means that as of right now, the UNC program has amassed 1,986 wins in its incredible history. UK will start this season with 1,988. From this, it looks like in the Race For 2,000, we have a real barnburner on our hands.
Well, if you’re a Tar Heel supporter and you’re reading this, I have some bad news. We don’t. To Wildcat fans: you can fire up the sewing machines and start creating that banner. Call the silkscreeners and start cranking out T-shirts. I’m calling it.
The wins have occurred over time in such a way that both programs will get to the 2,000-win mark early in this season’s schedule, and we know the early part of any season is a time of the year when many teams load their schedule with a fair number of cupcakes and a few big non-conference names thrown in there for RPI/strength-of-schedule boosting. UNC and UK have both done this for this season, and this is nothing new for anyone. This season started with UK leading the race with 1,988 wins to UNC’s 1,984. UNC’s early start this week pulls them to within two wins. So let’s see how the rest of their schedules look up until December 5th, when Kentucky and North Carolina meet up for a monumental clash at Rupp Arena:
North Carolina: Valparaiso, Ohio State (in NYC), California OR Syracuse (in NYC), Gardner-Webb, Nevada, Michigan State.
Kentucky: Morehead State, Miami (OH), Sam Houston State, Rider, Cleveland State, Stanford OR Virginia, UNC-Asheville.
For the sake of argument, let’s say both teams start the season perfectly up to this point. That’s no guarantee; UNC-Ohio State, UNC-California/Syracuse, or even UNC-Nevada could be interesting. Kentucky has it a little easier up to here, so we’re actually helping the Tar Heels by assuming a perfect start to the season. But let’s say it happens — this would put the race at UK with 1,995 and UNC with 1,992 going into the head-to-head matchup.