Item: Just ahead of the effects of impending Hurricane Francis getting close to the ACC’s Greensboro home base, the conference released the 2018-19 men’s basketball schedule on Thursday, and coupled with the previous announcement of the two exhibition matchups against Div. II schools and the 13 non-league games, the Orange schedule is now complete with ACC dates/times, but not yet for all of the non-league tipoff times.
As Jim Boeheim begins preseason practice on Sept. 25 embarking on his head-shaking 43rd season, and his first-ever coaching one of his own in sharp shooting freshman Buddy Boeheim, the path to making a deeper NCAA run than last season’s surprising Sweet 16 appearance is now set.
In a best case scenario the Orange would make the NCAA Tournament and play in the East Regional in somewhat close-by Hartford, then advance the next week to the regional in Washington, D.C., site of the victory over Marquette for a 2013 Final Four berth. This year’s Final Four is at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Here are some elements that jump out to us when looking over the 31 regular season game schedule:
- It’s the earliest start to a season that we could find, with the opener Nov. 6 against Eastern Washington, and the first preseason game Oct. 25. The next earliest start of a season was Nov. 8, 2005 versus Bethune-Cookman in a 2K Sports Hoop Classic game at the Dome. Consider this; the 1992-93 seasons’ first game was played on Dec. 1, 1992.
- There’s four instances in which the team will have six full days off between games; Nov. 21-28 (meaning no game the Saturday after Thanksgiving on Nov. 24), Dec. 8-15 (a regular occurrence due to first semester final exams), Dec. 22-29 (an unusually longer than normal Christmas break), and Feb. 13-20 (second semester midterm exams).
- Half of the 18 ACC games are being televised on either an ESPN platform or CBS, the other half on local market broadcast TV via Raycom or the nine regional sports networks within the conference’s footprint. That will likely cause teeth clenching among some loyal displaced fans searching for the right channel by the time the Jan. 5 league opener rolls around at Notre Dame, on yes, local market broadcast TV.
- As much as the league tries to avoid it, Syracuse will play three straight road games in one week’s time between Jan. 26 and Feb. 2 – Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, and Boston College.
- The Duke home-and-home series produces a Big Monday game at Cameron Indoor Stadium (Jan. 14), and a Saturday night probable primetime 8:00 tip in the Dome (Feb. 23) that will likely match or exceed the all-time, on-campus attendance record of 35,446 set for the Duke games in 2014 and ’15.
- Interesting, fellow 2016 Omaha Sweet 16 mate Clemson is again the regular season finale (Mar. 9), this time at Littlejohn Coliseum in a CBS tune-up broadcast before March Madness. SU also meets the Tigers in the Dome (Jan. 9).