Avid Tobacco Road basketball fans were finally able to fill in their schedules for their favorite teams with the release of the 2016-17 Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball schedule on Monday.
ACC play begins with Wake Forest opening at Florida State on Dec. 28 and Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State playing their conference openers on New Year’s Eve in a trio of road games.
Here’s a look at the conference slate for each of the four ACC teams along Tobacco Road.
For starters, there are two games on every Duke fan’s mind as the season begins: When do the Blue Devils play North Carolina?
The first meeting this season between Duke and North Carolina will be Feb. 9 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the Tar Heels claimed the ACC regular season championship last season. The Blue Devils then travel to Chapel Hill on March 4 for the regular-season finale. One noticeable change is the tip time. The games are usually slated for 9 p.m. starts, but this season fans will get to go to bed a little earlier with a pair of 8 p.m. tipoffs.
For Duke, January could prove to be a deciding month in the race for an ACC title, with the Blue Devils slated to travel to Florida State and Louisville, then back home to face Miami and N.C. State.
Duke also has three of its last four ACC games on the road — at Syracuse, Miami and then UNC.
The Blue Devils open their ACC schedule Dec. 31 at Virginia Tech.
The Tar Heels, the 2015-16 ACC Champions, open their ACC schedule in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve against Georgia Tech.
After Georgia Tech, North Carolina will travel to Clemson before hosting five of its next eight games at the Dean Dome in a favorable start for the defending ACC champs.
But North Carolina’s closing stretch is arguably the toughest in the league, with its final seven games of the season coming at Duke, at N.C. State, against Virginia, against Louisville, at Pittsburgh, at Virginia and against Duke. The stretch should benefit the Tar Heels come March.
North Carolina will play eight games against NCAA tournament teams in their final 10 games of the season. The other two games are against a promising N.C. State squad and Louisville, which would have made the tournament last season if not for a self-imposed postseason ban. North Carolina is home against Syracuse in a Final Four semifinal rematch on Jan. 16.
The Wolfpack enter the season with a promising group that includes heralded in-state product Dennis Smith Jr., who will make his debut — and possibly final appearances — at North Carolina on Jan. 7 and Duke on Jan. 23. N.C. State will host the Tar Heels on Feb. 15.
N.C. State will open conference play at Miami in one of three road games to start its four-game slate. However, the Wolfpack’s toughest stretch comes in back-to-back road games at Duke and Louisville on Jan. 23 and Jan. 29, before hosting Syracuse on Feb. 1.
N.C. State will also enjoy a reunion with a renovated Reynolds Coliseum on Dec. 10 against Tennessee State. Reynolds was the Wolfpack’s home for 50 years.
The Demon Deacons open their conference slate at Florida State on Dec. 28 as the lone ACC team from North Carolina slated to start conference play before New Year’s Eve.
Wake Forest will then have four of its next five games at Lawrence Joel Coliseum — including Jan. 11 against North Carolina and Jan. 18 against Miami — before traveling to N.C. State on Jan. 21 and Syracuse on Jan. 24.
The Demon Deacons will face Duke and N.C. State twice, hosting the Blue Devils on Jan. 28 and traveling to Durham on Feb. 18. The Wolfpack will come to Winston-Salem on Feb. 11.
The four in-state ACC teams all open the season Nov. 11. North Carolina is the lone team among the four to go on the road, beginning at Tulane.