One difference between new Tulane basketball coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. and predecessor Ed Conroy is apparent already.
The Green Wave released its entire nonconference schedule Thursday — about two months earlier than it ever did in Conroy’s tenure, when it annually was one of the last teams in the country to announce its schedule.
The highlight is the season opener against perennial power North Carolina on Nov. 11 at the Smoothie King Center. The Tar Heels, who beat the Wave 96-72 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, last year, have not played Tulane in New Orleans since Dec. 23, 1977.
North Carolina reached the NCAA championship game this spring, losing at the buzzer to Villanova. Dunleavy will coach his first game at Devlin Fieldhouse when Tulane entertains Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 14.
The Wave then will travel Nov. 17-20 for three games in the Puerto Rico Tip-off. The pairings have not been set, but the other teams in the field are 2015-16 Final Four participant Oklahoma, NCAA tournament No. 2 seed Xavier, Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri and Northern Iowa.
The rest of the home schedule features UNO (Nov. 30), St. John’s (Dec. 3), Southern (Dec. 7), McNeese State (Dec. 19) and Texas State (Dec. 23). The other road games are Georgia Tech (Nov. 26) and Southern Miss (Dec. 10).
“We are excited to have the opportunity for us and our fans to see college basketball in a professional venue against a quality opponent such as UNC,” Dunleavy said in a university release. “We are facing a number of very experienced teams that have also seen great success in the postseason in recent years. I think this will prepare us well for the competitive day in and day out of league play.”
The American Athletic Conference should release its 18-game schedule at the start of September. On Tuesday, the league announced which teams its members would play, with Tulane getting home-and-home games against everyone but Connecticut and Central Florida. The Wave will play the Huskies on the road and the Knights at home.