UNC Basketball: What Will Be The Composition of the 2020-21 Schedule?


In a typical college basketball season, teams are allowed a maximum of 31 regular season games. Earlier this week, Quierra Luck reported on the decisions made by the Division I Council concerning the 2020-21 season, which included the maximum number of games allowed for teams. The guideline states:

“In men’s basketball, teams can schedule 24 regular-season games and participate in one multiple-team event that includes up to three games; 25 regular-season games and participate in one multiple-team event that includes up to two games, or 25 regular-season games if a team does not participate in a multiple-team event.”

This verbiage means that teams can play a maximum of 25 regular season games with no MTE or 27 regular season games if an MTE is part of the schedule. The short answer is that teams are losing four regular season games.

How many regular season games will the Tar Heels play?

Assuming the Maui Invitational organizers find a way to make the event happen somewhere stateside (which seems likely to happen), Carolina will be able to play 27 games.

We should also acknowledge that if for some reason, the Maui Invitational doesn’t happen and the Tar Heels can’t find another multi-team event (MTE) to play in, they will only be allowed 25 regular season games.

Given the reduction of games, what will Carolina’s schedule look like?

Let’s explore.

Here’s what we already know:

  • Maui Invitational – Three games
  • CBS Sports Classic – One game
  • ACC/Big 10 Challenge - One game
  • ACC schedule – 20 games

That’s 25 games committed between conference play and tournament environments. In a schedule that only allows for 27 total regular season games, the Tar Heels only have two games left to play with.

Of course, that assumption is based in an ideal world in which each item above goes according to plan. In 2020, anything could happen.

As previously stated, the intention is to proceed with the Maui Invitational, just in a different location. But anything could happen.

The conversation right now is that CBS would still like to hold the CBS Sports Classic, in which the Tar Heels are scheduled to play Ohio State. But anything could happen.

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham has stated that the ACC / Big 10 Challenge will still take place. But anything could happen.

And until we learn differently, we will assume that the ACC is going to play its typical 20 game schedule. But anything could happen.

Who will the Tar Heels schedule for those two remaining games?

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Carolina was slated to play Charleston, Hawaii, UNC-Wilmington, Monmouth, and Elon in the non-conference portion of the schedule. The Hawaii game is likely out, given that it coincided with the Maui Invitational trip.

You could make a logical argument to keep any of the other four opponents on the schedule, however, typical scheduling logic is out the window in 2020.

So for now, we look forward to answers with regard to the following questions:

  • Will the Maui Invitational be played?
  • If so, where and when will the Maui Invitational be played?
  • Additionally, what schools will make up the field?
  • Will the CBS Sports Classic be played?
  • If so, where and when?
  • Will the the ACC / Big 10 Challenge actually happen?
  • If so, where and when?
  • Will the ACC maintain its normal schedule?
  • Who will fill out the remaining three games on the schedule?

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, it appears that we currently have more questions than answers. All we can do now is wait and see what happens.

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