North Carolina coach Roy Williams appeared on Andy Katz’s podcast this week to discuss the upcoming season and various changes in the ACC, including the league’s decision to move from 18 conference games to 20 conference games in 2019. Williams said adding two conference games would likely put an end to the North Carolina/Kentucky series because the Tarheels’ schedule would be too difficult.
“I asked one of those guys [in the NCAA Tournament selection committee] one time, ‘Would you rather have North Carolina vs. Kentucky or would you rather have North Carolina and whoever was last in the league?’ They said, ‘We’d rather have North Carolina/Kentucky.’ I said, ‘Well, if you have more conference games, you lose some possibilities of having those kind of games.'”
Once the new rules go into place in 2019, Williams said he envisions the Tar Heels playing 20 conference games, the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, one exempt event with elite teams (ala the CBS Sports Classic), and home games to boost revenue. The Kentucky/North Carolina series was home-and-home until a few years back, when UNC asked to take a few years off and Kentucky replaced the series with a home-and-home with UCLA. Now, Kentucky, North Carolina, UCLA, and Ohio State participate in the CBS Sports Classic, in which the Cats will face the ‘Heels in Las Vegas in December. Once the new ACC rules go into effect in 2019, Roy said that outside of the CBS Sports Classic, there’s no room for a series with Kentucky.
“Oh yeah, there’s no — like I said, the way I’m looking at it now, why do I need to do that?” Williams said. “You need some games where your kids get a little confidence and they get a little feel for what college basketball is like instead of just throwing them into the fire and expecting them to make changes.”
On one hand, I see Roy’s point. The SEC currently has an 18-game conference schedule, and if that were to increase to 20 games, you have to think some of UK’s marquee non-conference games would face the chopping block; however, it would be a shame to see the series be limited to every three years, and that’s only if the CBS Sports Classic is renewed.
Click here to listen to Roy’s explanation, which comes around the 30-minute mark.