Schedule strength throughout the season should set the table for the Atlantic Coast Conference's top challengers to have a hefty presence in March’s “Big Dance.” Which of these schedules bodes best for our NCAA basketball picks?
Duke’s first marquee date comes against the Kansas Jayhawks as part of Chicago’s State Farm Champions Classic, while finishing November with the Preseason NIT. December’s action features Mike Krzyzewski’s squad battling the Michigan Wolverines in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
North Carolina Tar Heels
UNC has a trio of big dates in December, facing the Michigan State Spartans, Kentucky Wildcats, and Texas Longhorns. The Tar Heels’ rivalry meetings with Duke will come as ACC play nears its end, including a regular season finale in Durham.
Syracuse heads west for the Maui Invitational in its early action, followed by facing some of its former Big East rivals. Jim Boeheim’s troops square off with the St. John’s Red Storm and Villanova Wildcats, while the Indiana Hoosiers make their way to Carrier Dome for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
NCAA basketball odds show that Pittsburgh’s slate shapes up lighter than their above rivals, hoping to run up some attention in November’s ‘cupcake’ contests. The Fresno State Bulldogs and Lehigh Mountain Hawks visit Petersen Events Center, while a step up in class comes as part of Brooklyn’s Legends Classic against Texas Tech.
NC State finds itself crunched in a year of rebuild, beginning with early televised matchups against the Cincinnati Bearcats and Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. The Wolfpack could find themselves on the losing end of their start to ACC play, with road dates at Notre Dame, Virginia and Duke in the first five contests.
Virginia draws in-state foe VCU for its second contest of the year, while December duels loom with the Wisconsin Badgers and Tennessee Volunteers. Tony Bennett’s boys could pick up late steam with a February stretch that includes home matchups against Boston College and Maryland.
Florida State Seminoles
Florida State has some early challenges, including the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and road dates with the Florida Gators and Minnesota Golden Gophers. Look for the Seminoles to pull off one or two early upsets, setting FSU up as a sleeper team when the heart of ACC play hits.
The Hurricanes will be a long shot to defend last year’s ACC Tournament title in this season’s campaign, while taking on a lighter early schedule. Sports betting highlights have Miami heading to Anaheim for November’s Wooden Classic, followed by a road battle with the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame has its chances to run the table early, with nine of its first 10 contests at Purcell Pavilion. The schedule steps up with December matchups against the Indiana Hoosiers and Ohio State Buckeyes, while opening ACC play at home against Duke.
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