CHAPEL HILL, NC — North Carolina has scheduled an exhibition game with Rutgers for Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Smith Center, multiple sources have confirmed. Referred to as a “secret scrimmage” due to the NCAA rules that prohibit fan and media viewing, each program is allowed one such game per year in place of a public exhibition game.
Usually, the teams will complete some variation of a five vs. five scrimmage while working in situational aspects. It provides a measuring stick for both teams against good opponents. Last year the Tar Heels played at Florida.
Following the scrimmage vs. the Scarlet Knights, the Tar Heels will face Johnson C. Smith in an exhibition game on Friday, Oct. 28 in Chapel Hill. The 2022-23 season opener is Nov. 7 vs. UNC Wilmington in the Smith Center.
The Tar Heels return four of five starters from the 2021-22 team that lost to Kansas in the National Championship game. UNC brings back All-ACC big man Armando Bacot, guards RJ Davis and Caleb Love, and wing Leaky Black, who has taken advantage of his fifth-year option. Carolina added Northwestern transfer forward Pete Nance, who is expected to start in the frontcourt.
Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell has led a major turnaround for the program, leading the Scarlet Knights to back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths. Rutgers returns three starters from a team that beat five ranked opponents (including then-No. 1 Purdue) and lost to Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament’s opening round. The fourth-place standing in the Big Ten was the highest finish the program has achieved since joining the conference.
Back is fifth-year guard Caleb McConnell (7.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.2 spg), the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year, as well as junior center Clifford Omoruyi (11.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and senior guard Paul Mulcahy (9.0 ppg , 5.3 apg). The team added Loyola (Md.) transfer guard Cam Spencer, who was named to the All-Patriot League First Team after averaging 18.9 points-per-game, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
>>> Hubert Davis’ Approach to Expanded Rotation & Increased Depth in Year Two <<<
North Carolina will have high expectations in just the second season under head coach Hubert Davis. Following a Final Four appearance and because of the number of returning starters, the Tar Heels are expected to be a popular choice for a preseason No. 1 ranking.
In addition to Nance, UNC also added three freshmen in point guard Seth Trimble, forward Tyler Nickel, and big man Jalen Washington. Returnees Puff Johnson and Dontrez Styles are also expected to figure into Carolina’s rotation at both the ‘3’ and ‘4’. Hubert Davis would like to roll out a deeper rotation this season and the development of Johnson, Styles, and the freshmen could help facilitate that.
“I don’t want to play five; I want to have a bigger rotation,” Davis said during a summer press conference. “I’m not going into the season saying I want to play 10 or I want an eight-man rotation — they determine it.”