A glance at the 2011-12 ACC men’s basketball schedule unveiled Wednesday:
State rivals? Virginia and Virginia Tech play Jan. 22 in Charlottesville and Feb. 21 in Blacksburg, again foiling those of us who believe the Hokies and Cavaliers should collide in the regular-season finale. Several Virginia fans on Twitter disagree and prefer the Cavaliers’ annual finale against Maryland. An unscientific but interesting sample.
Another busy weekend? The Hokies host Kansas State on Dec. 4, the day after the ACC football championship game in Charlotte, N.C. Last year, Tech opened ACC play at home against Virginia the day following the football team’s ACC title victory over Florida State.
Anchors aweigh: North Carolina’s season-opener versus Michigan State is must-see TV, and not because both have national championship pedigree. The Tar Heels and Spartans are playing Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day, aboard the USS Carl Vinson, a carrier built in Newport News and stationed in San Diego. Beyond cool.
Phoenix reunion: Virginia coach Tony Bennett guides the Cavaliers against his alma mater, Wisconsin-Green Bay, on Nov. 25 in Charlottesville. Bennett played for the Phoenix from 1988-92 and exited as the Mid-Continent Conference’s career leader in points (2,285) and assists (601).
Non-conference chops: Virginia Tech and Virginia will face at least two outside opponents that made last season’s NCAA tournament — Kansas State and Brigham Young for the Hokies, George Mason and Michigan for the Cavaliers. Depending on how the bracket falls, Tech might also encounter George Mason and Syracuse in the NIT Season Tip-Off. Virginia could play Marquette at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
Knight moves: Presuming opening victories over Belmont and Presbyterian, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski can break mentor Bob Knight's career record of 902 against Michigan State in New York on Nov. 15 -- shockingly, ESPN will televise. If the Blue Devils stumble, Krzyzewski (900 wins) could surpass Knight on Nov. 18 at home versus Davidson.
Slave to rotation: North Carolina and Duke figure to remain the ACC’s alpha dogs in 2011-12. Virginia faces the Tar Heels twice and the Blue Devils once, at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the Cavaliers have lost 14 consecutive games. Virginia Tech plays Duke twice and North Carolina once, at Cassell Coliseum.
As it should be: Befitting their status, Duke and Carolina have the most challenging non-conference schedules. Among others, the Devils face Michigan State, Tennessee, Ohio State, Washington, Temple and St. John’s; the Tar Heels play Michigan State, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Texas.
As it shouldn’t be: Fresh off its best season ever, the Colonial Athletic Association has only four guaranteed games against the ACC — UNC Wilmington at Maryland and Wake Forest, and George Mason and Towson at Virginia.
Do I hear four? Harvard, coached by former Duke All-American Tommy Amaker, has beaten neighbor Boston College the last three seasons. The teams meet again Dec. 29.
Compression chamber: Unlike in past seasons, the ACC and its television co-conspirators scheduled no league games during December. Everyone opens league play the first weekend of January. Like it.
Cool break from football: Saturday Dec. 10 finds Duke versus Washington at Madison Square Garden, Clemson at Arizona and Miami at West Virginia.
Sign o’ the times: As previously announced, the ACC tournament is in Atlanta, but not at the cavernous Georgia Dome, host of the 2009 and ’01 tourney. Instead, the event is next door at Philips Arena, an actual basketball facility with far fewer tickets to sell.
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