One more day. One more day until actual basketball begins. Sure, it's only practice, but after six months of waiting, practice is a glorious thing.
It's time to start looking at the actual games. Here are the 10 can't miss ACC out-of-conference games. This excludes the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, because frankly, if you're missing that you're dead to me.
10. Duke vs Temple – Dec. 8. Every X's and O's junky loves Temple's Fran Dunphy. Every X's and O's junky loves Duke's Mike Krzyzewski. They'll play in New Jersey (you don't expect Duke to play a road game, do you?), and both teams could very well be undefeated heading into this game. If Duke is undefeated, they'll be in the top-5. For Temple this year will be the Khalif Wyatt show.
9 Georgia Tech vs Georgia – Dec. 4. I'm expecting Georgia Tech to be sneaky good this year. If that's the case, then they need to be able to handle Georgia. The Bulldogs have former 5* Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who should be poised for a breakout year. The Yellow Jackets have a lot of young, talented players, and this happens after they've already played their preseason tourney as well as the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, so they should be ready.
8. Virginia vs Tennessee – Dec. 5. Another SEC/ACC matchup on December 5th (see No. 4 below). Cuonzo Martin appartently has the Volunteers on the fast track, while the Hoos will be facing life after Mike Scott. The three-headed monster of Trae Golden, Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon will be all the Cavs can handle, but this game will give them a chance to make a statement. And it's at home.
7. Florida State vs BYU – Nov. 16. This will be the first real test for Michael Snaer and Co. Snaer will be tasked with stopping Matt Carlino, who had an up and down freshman season. But the matchup to watch will be BYU's stud big man Brandon Davies against FSU's frontcourt. This will also be a matchup of two great defensive teams who both like to run. This one has high excitement value.
6. NC State vs Stanford – Dec. 18. Stanford travels to Raleigh, bringing with them one of the best backcourts on the west coast. Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright are both small (okay, tiny) but they'll be a major challege for the Wolfpack's bigger guards. Since NCSU plays a relatively light ooc schedule, this game will be an absolute must win if they're to realize their lofty preseason expectations.
5. Miami vs Detroit – Nov. 24. The Hurricanes might be the best team no one is talking about, but they won't earn anyone's respect if they can't handle mid-major foes at home. Detroit loves to run the floor, and they have one of the most exciting guards in the nation in Ray McCallum. If Miami's roster played for a team in North Carolina, this game would certainly get better than ESPN3 billing.
4. Florida State vs Florida – Dec 5. The Gators come into Tallahassee for this annual showdown having won three straight vs Leonard Hamilton's club. Both teams feature an All-American candidate at the 2-guard spot. But the key might be how FSU's inexperienced front line fares against a battle-tested Gator interior. This is also a great contrast in styles. The Gators hunt for the 3-ball, while the Seminoles play an agressive, physical game.
3. Maryland vs Kentucky – Nov. 9. The Terps are a tough team to read. Luckily, we'll get a good look at them in game No. 1 of the season. These two meet at the new Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, so plenty of the rich and famous will be at mid-court. Alex Len never really settled in as a freshman, but many expect a huge leap in his sophomore year. Len vs Noel (if it happens) could be epic. It would also matchup two highly regared center prospects who both faced the hurdles of clearing the NCAA. And both teams had highly touted recruiting classes.
2. Duke vs Kentucky – Nov. 13. What a great early season matchup. The State Farm Champions Classic is big boy basketball. Last year, in Madison Square Garden, Duke took down Michigan State. The same four teams travel to Atlanta (Duke, MSU, Kansas, Kentucky) and this time Duke faces off with the defending champs. Both teams will have one game under their belts heading into this one.
1. UNLV at North Carolina – Dec. 29. This is Carolina's final tune-up before kicking off ACC play, and it will be a rematch of last year's 90-80 UNLV win in Las Vegas. By this point we'll have a good grasp of exactly how good James Michael-McAdoo is going to be. And they're hosting a Runnin' Rebel team that will most likely be ranked, and possibly in the top-10. UNLV's Mike Moser and 5* freshman Anthony Bennett will offer a real challenge to a young UNC front line. And best of all, both coaches like to get up and down the floor. Even playing good defense, this game will feature enough possessions to run up the score.