Thursday, July 25, 2013

UNC football: Ranking 2013 schedule in order of difficulty

CHAPEL HILL -- And welcome to football season.

It hasn't been much of an offseason. Between baseball, a trip to Omaha, furloughs and covering the missteps of a certain prominent North Carolina basketball player, my mental clock hasn't quite registered that football season is upon us. But this is a good thing. The blog is about to become a lot more active than it has been in recent weeks, so please make this a part of regular reading rotation.

I have a few things planned between now and when the Tar Heels begin the season on Aug. 29 at South Carolina. Look out in the coming weeks for a primer on each of UNC's opponents, for a countdown of the players that will be most influential to the Tar Heels' success this season and a position-by-position rundown of the team. For now, we'll start nice and easy: With a look at UNC's schedule.

And it is:

29 - at South Carolina

7 - vs. Middle Tennessee State
21 - at Georgia Tech
28 - vs. East Carolina

5 - at Virginia Tech
17 - vs. Miami
26 - vs. Boston College

2 - at N.C. State
9 - vs. Virginia
16 - at Pittsburgh
23 - vs. Old Dominion
30 - vs. Duke

First reaction: That's kind of strange, for a team to playing nearly half of its games in November. Second reaction: That's a difficult opening stretch, with UNC's three most difficult games among the first five - and, really, four most difficult games among the first six.

Here's how I'd rank the games, by most difficult to least:
-at South Carolina
-at Virginia Tech
-at Georgia Tech
-at N.C. State
-vs. Miami
-at Pitt
-vs. Middle Tennessee State
-vs. ECU
-vs. Virginia
-vs. Boston College
-vs. Duke
-vs. Old Dominion

Usually when you look at a schedule, several tiers emerge. There are the guaranteed victories. There are the "should wins." There are the toss-ups. The games in which a team will be a sure underdog. And those that seem nearly impossible to win.

But when I look at UNC's schedule, I see fewer of those tiers. I see six games that I'd give UNC at least an 80 percent chance or better of winning. Then I see three toss-ups. And in the rest, UNC will be the underdog - one of them a significant underdog.

Here's the percentage I give the Tar Heels of winning each game:
-at South Carolina: .15
-vs. Middle Tennessee State: .8
-at Georgia Tech: .4
-vs. East Carolina: .85
-at Virginia Tech: .35
-vs. Miami: .55
-vs. Boston College: .9
-at N.C. State: .6
-vs. Virginia: .85
-at Pittsburgh: .55
-vs. Old Dominion: .99
-vs. Duke: .9

Add all those percentages up and it comes to: 7.89.

Or, translated to a 12-game football season, about eight wins. 8-4 That sounds about right. I'm not quite ready to make my season predictions yet - those will come later, closer to the start of the season - but 8-4 is probably a pretty good baseline in terms of expectations for this team. With some mild luck, 9-3 isn't out of the question. With some very good fortune, a 10-win season could be in the realm.

I really only see one sure defeat - the season-opener at South Carolina. Beyond that, UNC should be starting the season with six wins: Middle Tennessee State, ECU, Boston College, Virginia, Old Dominion and Duke. Win two of the five games against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Miami, N.C. State and Pitt, and that'd be eight wins total. Win three of those five, and 9-3 becomes realistic.

Of course, the Tar Heels would significantly raise expectations with a victory at in Columbia, S.C., near the end of August. The season is upon us, folks ...

- Andrew Carter


Anonymous said...

This author is way off base. ECU is favored to win CUSA East at 3:1 odds. MTSU is 18:1 odds. ECU is favored in that matchup easily.

ECU is already a slight favorite, albeit preseason, against NCSU at NCSU.

ECU is projected in every major publication as having a legitimate 10 win season.

This author has ECU as a much less difficult game than NCSU and MTSU. Obviously an ACC homer who does not do any homework.

Anonymous said...

"Between baseball, a trip to Omaha, furloughs, getting all my info from Pack Pride, and covering the missteps of a certain prominent North Carolina basketball player, my mental clock hasn't quite registered that football season is upon us."

Fixed that for you.

Anonymous said...

UNC should win 6-7 games this year. They have not shown the ability in past years to win on the road and Fedora didn't do anything to change that. All those free perks at home don't help them on the road. After South Carolina blows them out 59-3 and moral is busted this team should end up finishing 4th in the Coastal division. I wonder what kind of ring they'll get for finishing middle of the pack? Speaking of Pack, there is no way UNC has a 40% chance of beating State on the road this year. NC State will crush a team that allowed 33 pts a game last year, lost their best defensive player, and has a decimated offensive line.

Anonymous said...

Another Delusional Wolfie.

Anonymous said...

Go Tar Heels!
And don't come back!

Anonymous said...

I really only see one sure defeat - the season-opener at South Carolina.

Yet they have a 15% chance? Fuzzy math!

Anonymous said...

So ECU who is favored by most writers to beat State and Middle Tenn in away games, is somehow less of an opponent. Not to mention the ECU game is sandwiched between arguably the two most important games for Carolina. Your numbers are a bit off. I feel you may be in for a rude awakening this year with a weak D and no Gio.

Anonymous said...

HA the pack is not going to "crush" anyone this year. And i seriously doubt we are going to lose by over 50 points to scar. Our offensive line is not decimated. We are essentially replacing 2 guys. 1 of the replacements is a five star recruit (I know you guys really don't understand who those are) and the other guy played behind a top 10 draft pick last year. Sly was our best player on defense. However he played the last half of the year on a bum ankle. Including the game where he torn you guys up. The guy we have coming in has a chance to be more productive if he can stay healthy. And I seriously doubt we will give up 33 points a game again. We are in year 2 of our new defense, i promise you that will make a huge difference. Finally Gio will be missed but honestly we have so many weapons on offense now including 4 rbs (all of which are better than state's) that we will not need him to hang 60 on everyone we play. Oh and the guy talking about ECU, I agree with ya, the Pirates are going to solid this year.

Anonymous said...

Typical woofie response to anything Carolina... IQ dips below 100.

Your comment does not contain even one reasonable point about the Tar Heels upcoming season.

Carolina turns woofies into babbling goobers.

Charley said...


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