It’s that time of year again. North Carolina Basketball is back. Roy Williams will begin his 16th season as the head coach of the Tar Heels on Tuesday night when UNC travels to Spartanburg, South Carolina to take on the Wofford Terriers.
The Tar Heels will be returning the majority of the team that won 26 games last season before a disappointing early exit in the NCAA Tournament at the hands of Texas A&M. Luke Maye, Kenny Williams, and Cameron Johnson are all back, to form an elite senior trio. Joining them will be returning role players Seventh Woods, Brandon Robinson, Garrison Brooks, Sterling Manley, Andrew Platek, KJ Smith, and Brandon Huffman.
One of the biggest questions going into this season is how Carolina will replace departed seniors Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson. Berry and Pinson were the heart and soul of the Tar Heels for four years, and their contributions on and off the court will be greatly missed.
Fortunately, UNC has brought in a top tier freshmen class to help ease the blow of Berry and Pinson’s departures. The group consists of Nassir Little, Coby White, and Rechon “Leaky” Black. All three are extremely talented, and all three have impressed in preseason practices and exhibitions.
It’s looking like White is going to start at point guard right away, as he got the starting nod for Carolina’s final scrimmage of the year this past Friday versus Mount Olive. Little may not start, but his elite athleticism and versatility will ensure he is on the court plenty. Black is more of a project than the other two, but he should still be able to contribute as a freshman.
With a strong returning class and an exciting group of freshmen, it should be another fun season in Chapel Hill. The following non-conference matchups will play a large part in how Carolina’s season unfolds and will be exciting tests for what should be an exciting team.
Nov. 28 at Michigan
This will be just the second matchup between Carolina and Michigan since they met for the National Championship in 1993. The first time was last season when Carolina won handily, 86-71. Both teams went on to have good seasons, and Michigan went all the way to the national championship game before losing to Villanova.
Both the Tar Heels and the Wolverines should be ranked when they meet on November 28th. This will make Carolina’s highly anticipated trip to Ann Arbor a huge opportunity to secure a quality win and for young players to gain valuable experience in a hostile road environment against a quality opponent.
Dec. 3 vs. Gonzaga
If you don’t know why this is a big game, then you have no business reading this article. This will obviously be the first time these two programs have met since UNC defeated Gonzaga in the 2017 National Championship game.
When the two teams meet again in December it should be another exciting matchup. Both squads will likely be ranked in the top-10, and both will still have players who played in that National Championship game. The Smith Center will be rocking for this Saturday night game, and it will be another great opportunity for Carolina to secure a big win and gain some valuable experience.
Dec. 22 vs. Kentucky
The past two times these two storied programs faced off, we were given absolute classics, and this year’s matchup could produce the same. UNC and Kentucky will once again both have very formidable teams this season, and both will likely be ranked in the top 15 at the time of the game.
The Wildcats picked up Stanford transfer Reid Travis, who was one of the better players in college basketball last year. It will be interesting to see how Carolina handles his size and physicality, as they struggled to contain those types of players last season. This will be another great test for UNC in what should be a great game.
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