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The North Carolina Tar Heels are poised to have an historic season, sitting at or near the top of everybody’s rankings. But in order to earn that ranking they have to endure one of the most demanding schedules in the NCAA, facing off against familiar foes, strange rivals, and the cream of the crop–all of whom want to be the ones who knock them down. Here are the five most exciting games to look forward to if you are a Heels fan (or are looking to root against them).

Tar Heels vs. Wofford Terriers

November 6 (7 PM)

The season opener for UNC will take place in Spartanburg, SC, when they take on the Wofford Terriers. At a glance, this game may not seem like the biggest draw, but you would be mistaken to underestimate the Terriers, who are only three years removed from winning the Southern Conference and they have made the tournament four of the last eight seasons. Oh yeah, and they defeated the Tar Heels last December when UNC was ranked fifth in one of the biggest shocker upsets of the season. Plus it’s the season opener, and that in itself makes it worthwhile. Shop tickets here.

Tar Heels vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs

December 15 (7 PM)

In 2017, the Gonzaga Bulldogs suffered a defeat at the hands of the Tar Heels in the championship game by a score of 71-65. The game ended up being the topic of many conversations — but not for the reasons you might think. Neither team played very well, with each one trying not to lose rather than trying to win, and the refereeing was subpar at best. The teams have, of course, recovered from the incident of two years ago but both are going to want to prove themselves and save some face — even two-year-old face. Oh, and Gonzaga is consistently ranked higher than UNC, so if the Heels pull off a win it could upend the entire sport. Shop tickets here.

Tar Heels vs. Duke Blue Devils

February 20 (9 PM)

Duke University is almost synonymous with college basketball, being perennial contenders. The cross-state rivalry is one of the best in all of basketball, if not all of sports, with both teams vying not only for supremacy in the NCAA but also bragging rights back home. The teams have faced off 248 times, with UNC holding the edge with 137 wins, but recent years have seen a little more parity between the two. Duke is generally ranked above UNC in most polls this year, but not by much. Either way, these are two top contenders and the game should be damn good. Shop tickets here.

The Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational

November 16-23

This is less a game than a series of four games, with eight teams facing off over Thanksgiving weekend. The Tar Heels are already billed as a headliner of the event, and will take on Tennessee Tech, St. Francis, and Texas for certain, and on Nov. 23 they will be taking on either the powerhouse Michigan Wolverines, or the slightly more middling UCLA. But hey, it’s an excuse to watch basketball while everybody is recovering from their oversized meals and the crazies are out shopping. Shop tickets here.

(Cropped image courtesy of Eric Wong via Flickr. | CC BY-ND 2.0)