With so much uncertainty around the upcoming college basketball season, positive steps were made last week as the 2020-21 men’s basketball schedule was finalized. With a strong nucleus of returners mixed in with one of head coach Kevin Keatts’ strongest recruiting classes since coming to Raleigh, most expect the Wolfpack to exceed the preseason prediction of finishing 8th in the ACC. After looking over the schedule, here are the top five games to look forward to if you’re an NC State fan.
5. NC State vs TBD – Mako Medical Wolfpack Invitational (Nov 25 & Nov 27)
Just to make it to this game would be a huge accomplishment, right? NC State will be hosting the MTE at historic Renoylds Colesieum. While it’s not known who’s playing who, the field will feature the Wolfpack, Charleston Southern, Eastern Kentucky, and North Florida. Eastern Kentucky will feature the return of former NC State assistant A.W. Hamilton and Durham product Jomaru Brown – who was an All-OVC selection averaging just over 18 ppg last season.
4. NC State at UCONN – December 5th – Uncaseville, CT
A late addition to the original schedule release pins the Wolfpack against Big East power UCONN – giving NC State a key road game early in the season. The Huskies posted a 19-12 record last season, which was a major improvement from the previous season for UCONN and known rebuilder Dan Hurley. With the number of fans being allowed at games unknown at the moment, this could provide Coach Keatts and crew a good test. The Pack and Huskies last squared off in 2012, with NC State sliding by UCONN 69-64.
3. NC State at Michigan – ACC/BIG 10 Challenge – December 9 – Ann Arbor, MI
The Wolfpack will stay up north for back to back games when they travel to Michigan to face the Wolverines in the annual ACC/Big 10 Challenge. Michigan is led by second-year head coach and Wolverines legend Juwan Howard. Michigan rose quickly up the rankings last season before cooling down late, finishing 19-12. The Pack will see a familiar face in guard Chaundee Brown Jr. – who was granted immediate eligibility to play with the Wolverines for the 2020-21 season following his transfer from Wake Forest.
2. NC State vs UNC – December 22 – Raleigh, NC
This is a rivalry game (In spite of what UNC fans say). Both teams get up for this game and it shows with the physical play year in and year out. Rare scheduling puts the teams against each other in a before Christmas showdown. The two programs face off before January for the first time since they opened the 1979-80 season against each other in Greensboro as part of the Big Four Tournament. Coming off their second-worst season in program history, the Tar Heels still managed to sweep the Wolfpack in the 2019-20 season series – continuing Roy William’s dominance of NC State. Even with a top recruiting class heading to Chapel Hill, this game could give the Wolfpack a chance to get a key home victory with a veteran group that will help them come March and tournament selection time.
1. NC State vs Duke – February 13 – Raleigh, NC
In recent history, PNC Arena hasn’t been kind to the Blue Devils. NC State has taken five out of the last seven games played in Raleigh. Crazy things tend to happen in a full PNC Arena. While the location of the game is still TBD, don’t be surprised to see the Wolfpack win this one.
Other key games: Dec 16 @ Louisville – Jan 12/13 @ Florida State – Feb 2 / 3 vs UVA