ACC announces 2023-24 basketball schedule: Who has the toughest slate?

The ACC released its men’s basketball conference schedule for the 2023-24 season Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • ACC play tips off on Dec. 2 and will consist of a 20-game conference schedule for each team for the fifth straight season.
  • The ACC Tournament will take place March 12-16 at Capitol One Arena in Washington, D.C.
  • Duke is the highest-ranked ACC team in The Athletic’s top 25 rankings at No. 3. UNC is second-highest at No. 18 and Miami is third-highest at No. 19.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Who has the toughest schedule?

So much for Syracuse easing into the Adrian Autry era, huh? Not sure who the Orange ticked off, but that league opener — against Virginia, in what is sure to be a rabid John Paul Jones Arena — couldn’t be a much tougher beginning for Jim Boeheim’s successor. As if that wasn’t enough, Syracuse’s second and third conference foes are Pitt and Duke, two of the three ACC teams who won an NCAA Tournament game last season — and those are in the span of four days! Replacing a Hall of Famer like Boeheim, one who quite literally had never been anywhere but Syracuse, was always going to be tough for Autry, but the league did him no favors with the Orange’s start to ACC play. — Marks

Who has the easiest schedule?

Wake Forest has been just on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble the last two seasons, but is this the year Steve Forbes’ team gets in? Given the way the Demon Deacons’ end-of-year slate turned out, it’s certainly possible. Wake’s final four games — at Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, then home vs. Georgia Tech and Clemson — all come against teams that missed the NCAA Tournament last season, and the final two come at the comfort of home. (Plus, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech are both breaking in first-year head coaches on teams who aren’t expected to be incredibly competitive this season.) That’s about as fortuitous a final four games as Forbes can ask for. Now all the Demon Deacons have to do is avoid a late-season slip-up against a subpar team, like it has against Boston College the last two seasons.

Also worth mentioning here: Duke, the expected preseason No. 1 team in the league. The Blue Devils play Pitt twice in January — on the road on Jan. 9, and at home on Jan. 20 — but otherwise don’t face a single ACC team who made the NCAA Tournament until late February, when they travel to Miami on Feb. 21. That contest very well could decide who wins the regular season, but at least Jon Scheyer’s team has a long run-up to that point. — Marks

Are there any tough schedule stretches?

A few worth mentioning, but as quick hitters:

Not only does NC State have to replace its All-ACC backcourt this season, but there may not be a tougher final three games in the entire conference: At UNC — where NC State has lost five straight — then Duke at home (two days later), and finally at Pitt to end the regular season. Yikes. Those are some marquee opportunities right before Selection Sunday… but also tough, tough games.

I’m fairly high on Clemson given what Brad Brownell did this offseason — returning P.J. Hall and Chase Hunter, adding Joe Girard and Jack Clark from the transfer portal — but early February will test the Tigers. Clemson opens that month with Virginia at home, before traveling to North Carolina, to Syracuse, and then hosting Miami and NC State back at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Tigers may be one of the league’s top four teams, but we’ll know for sure depending on how they handle that stretch. — Marks

Required reading

(Photo: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images)

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