LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- It took much longer than usual due to complications from the coronavirus pandemic, but Louisville's 2021 basketball schedule was finally released Tuesday morning, providing the first look at the Cardinals' 20-game Atlantic Coast Conference schedule.
However, it's not quite complete because UofL has seven midweek games whose dates still need to be finalized. They will be played either on Wednesday or Thursday. Game times and TV information are also yet to be determined.
But here's what we know about the overall schedule:
As expected, UofL's meeting with Kentucky in the KFC Yum! Center will be on Dec. 26, the Cards' final non-conference foe on its 27-game schedule, reduced by four games this season by the NCAA because of the virus.
The ACC schedule features six opponents that Louisville will play twice: Duke, Virginia, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh. The Blue Devils and Cavaliers are expected to be the two strongest teams in the league.
UofL will open its ACC slate on Dec. 16 against NC State in the KFC Yum! Center, but will play four of its first seven games on the road before playing five-of-seven at home in January, including three in a row late in the month.
The Cards will open the season on Nov. 25 against Southern Illinois in the Wade Houston Tipoff Classic. Their other four games in the tournament are Nov. 27 against Seton Hall; Nov. 29 against Prairie View A&M; Dec. 1 against Western Kentucky and Dec. 4 vs. UNC Greensboro.
Louisville's only game between UNC Greensboro and NC State will be at Wisconsin on Dec. 9 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
"Although it's been a long time coming, we sure look forward to a competitive schedule as usual," UofL coach Chris Mack said in a statement. "I give a lot of credit to (assistant coach) Dino Gaudio, who worked the phones like an operator putting together our non-conference schedule. The ACC schedule is always a challenge no matter how they put the games together. We're looking forward to November 25th!"
Besides NC State and the home-and-home series against the six ACC opponents, UofL's other three home games will be against Georgia Tech, Florida State and Notre Dame. Its four road games, other than the six, will be at Wake Forest, Miami, North Carolina and Clemson.
ACC commissioner John Swafford said that constructing the basketball schedule was far more difficult than compiling the football schedule due to the much larger number of games, among other factors.
"To be honest with you, it was a challenge," Swafford said. "Even more of a challenge than football, for instance, because of the sequencing of the games, the officials traveling all around the country and officiating as many games as they officiate.
"We coordinate with our television partners and they have various conferences to work with. So we all work together to try and put that to bed. A lot of conversations about the testing and protocols that will come into play. And because you're sometimes playing three games a week, as opposed to one in football, it's a different sequencing there, both for the players and the officials."
Swafford said the ACC worked with its Medical Advisory Group and public health officials to uphold the necessary measures to compete "in a safe and responsible manner." Unlike football, a COVID-19 outbreak among just a few players could impact games.
"You only have 12 to 15 players," Swofford said. "If you have a virus outbreak, it can be really problematic for a while in terms of the testing and the tracing. We're trying to deal with that, where we continue to be really cooperative with the local communities and regulations from attendance to contact tracing and so forth."
Attendance in the KFC Yum! Center for each game will be limited to 3,000 fans. A UofL spokesman said season ticket holders will receive communication via email about their seat selection time in the coming days.