NC State

What’s different about NC State’s basketball schedule for Kevin Keatts’ first season

This will be the first season at N.C. State for men’s basketball coach Kevin Keatts.
This will be the first season at N.C. State for men’s basketball coach Kevin Keatts.

N.C. State’s basketball team will look different with a new coach this season, so does the Wolfpack’s schedule.

N.C. State, under first-year coach Kevin Keatts, will face seven teams, in the nonconference portion of its schedule, that finished No. 240 or higher in the RPI last season and four of those teams finished with single-digit wins.

Arizona (No. 2) and UNC Greensboro (95) are the only two teams N.C. State is guaranteed to play that finished last season in the top 100 of the RPI.

That’s quite a departure from the scheduling philosophy of former coach Mark Gottfried, whose premise was to play as many games to help the team’s RPI as possible.

That won’t be the case for Keatts, if S.C. State (No. 302), VMI (329) and Presbyterian (347) are as bad this season as they were last.

Keatts said earlier this summer with so many top 50 and 100 games in league play, he didn’t want to over-extend his team outside the ACC.

The Wolfpack will face Arizona, a preseason top 3 team, in the first game of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. There’s a chance the Wolfpack could also face SMU, No. 13 in the RPI last year, in the Thanksgiving week tournament.

The only other Power 5 opponent on the Wolfpack’s schedule is Penn State, which is part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Most difficult stretch

The ACC schedule opens with a pair of road games – at Clemson, at Notre Dame – and then a home date with Duke, likely to begin the season ranked No. 1 in the country.

Easiest stretch

The first four opponents – VMI, Charleston Southern, Bryant and Presbyterian — had a combined record of 27-88 last season. Keatts should have a 4-0 record when the Pack faces off with Sean Miller and Arizona in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Three games to know

1) The annual game at Reynolds Coliseum is always fun. Last year’s went into overtime, a win over Tennessee State, and the previous one – before Reynolds was renovated – was a last-second loss to Wofford.

2) Odd that N.C. State faces Clemson twice in the first four ACC games. Gottfried’s tenure actually ended with back-to-back losses to the Tigers.

3) Keatts’ first chance against UNC is Jan. 27 in Chapel Hill and the return game in Raleigh is Feb. 10.

NC State schedule

Nov. 3 x-Mars Hill, 7 p.m.

Nov. 10 VMI

Nov. 12 Charleston Southern

Nov. 14 Bryant

Nov. 16 Presbyterian

Nov. 22 y-vs. Arizona

Nov. 23 y-vs. Northern Iowa/SMU

Nov. 24 y-Battle 4 Atlantis

Nov. 29 Penn State, 7 p.m.

Dec. 2 S.C. State

Dec. 9 UMKC (at Reynolds Coliseum)

Dec. 16 UNCG

Dec. 19 Robert Morris

Dec. 22 Jacksonville

Dec. 30 at Clemson

Jan. 3 at Notre Dame, 9 p.m.

Jan. 6 Duke, 2 or 8 p.m.

Jan. 11 Clemson, 9 p.m.

Jan. 14 at Virginia, 6 p.m.

Jan. 18 Wake Forest, 8 p.m.

Jan. 21 Miami, noon

Jan. 24 at Pittsburgh, 9 p.m.

Jan. 27 at UNC, noon

Feb. 3 Notre Dame, noon

Feb. 7 at Virginia Tech, 9 p.m.

Feb. 10 UNC, 2 p.m.

Feb. 14 at Syracuse, 9 p.m.

Feb. 17 at Wake Forest, 4 p.m.

Feb. 20 Boston College, 7 p.m.

Feb. 25 Florida State, 6 p.m.

March 1 at Georgia Tech, 8 p.m.

March 3 Louisville, 6 p.m.

Notes: x-preseason; y-Battle 4 Atlantis, Bahamas