UNC Basketball Set for Showcase Against Preseason Powerhouse

In a rematch of last season’s Elite Eight battle, UNC basketball will welcome Alabama to the Dean Dome for the ACC/SEC Challenge.
UNC basketball head coach Hubert Davis
UNC basketball head coach Hubert Davis / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

When the ACC/SEC Challenge was first announced to replace the previous yearly competition between the ACC and Big Ten, many were excited at the possibility of new matchups that fans do not normally get to see.

Last season gave UNC fans a taste of that unfamiliar matchup, when the Tar Heels welcomed Tennessee to town for just the fourth time ever in the two programs' 13-game history. The Tar Heels emerged from that contest victorious, notching a 100-92 victory over the Volunteers, who were at that point ranked as one of the top 10 teams in the country.

But this season, UNC basketball fans will be all too familiar with the ACC/SEC Challenge opponent, who will almost assuredly be another top 10 team when the Tar Heels welcome them to Chapel Hill.

On Wednesday, CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein reported the 16 different matchups for the 2024 ACC/SEC Challenge, including the reveal that the Tar Heels will host Alabama, serving as a rematch of last year’s matchup between the two in the Elite Eight.

Alabama got the upper hand in that game, winning 89-87 to eliminate the Tar Heels in the West Regional Final and advance to the first Final Four in program history.

The Crimson Tide roster will look largely similar to the one that eliminated UNC back in March, with key players in Mark Sears, Grant Nelson, and Latrell Wrightsell Jr. returning from last year’s Final Four run.

UNC and Alabama have faced 13 times in the history of the two programs, with the Tar Heels having the narrow edge with seven victories. However, the Crimson Tide have had the upper hand lately, winning two of the three matchups since the beginning of the 2000s.

They'll play on Dec. 4, the second night of this year's ACC/SEC Challenge. The confirmation of the game between the two teams adds another piece to the puzzle in terms of the non-conference slate for the Tar Heels in 2024-25. Here’s what is currently known about the schedule:

  • Nov. 4 vs. Elon, Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • Nov. 8 at Kansas, Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kan.
  • Nov. 15 vs. American, Smith Center
  • Nov. 22 at Hawaii, SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu
  • Nov. 25-27, Maui Invitational, Lahaina Civic Center, Lahaina, Hawaii (field consists of UNC, Auburn, Colorado, Dayton, Iowa State, Memphis, Michigan State, and back-to-back national champ UConn; first round matchups not yet set)
  • Dec. 4 vs. Alabama, ACC/SEC Challenge, Smith Center
  • Dec. 14 vs. La Salle, Smith Center
  • Dec. 21 vs. UCLA, CBS Sports Classic, (likely) Madison Square Garden, New York City
  • UNC vs. Florida, Jumpman Invitational (date and location not yet set)

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Cam Robertson