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Gonzaga will host ACC power North Carolina on Dec. 18

UPDATED: Thu., June 13, 2019, 7:16 p.m.

Gonzaga’s Filip Petrusev battles North Carolina’s Sterling Manley during the first half last December in Chapel Hill, N.C. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga’s Filip Petrusev battles North Carolina’s Sterling Manley during the first half last December in Chapel Hill, N.C. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The date is set for one of Gonzaga’s biggest home basketball games.

North Carolina, which has won six NCAA Tournaments and reached 20 Final Fours, will visit the McCarthey Athletic Center on Dec. 18, according to a UNC release. It’s the return game from North Carolina’s 103-90 victory over visiting Gonzaga last season.

The two-game series is arguably the biggest nonconference, home-and-home set in GU program history, with Michigan State, UCLA and Arizona also in the discussion.

North Carolina is No. 6 and Gonzaga is No. 7 in ESPN’s way-too-early Top 25 that was updated a week ago. CBSsports.com ranks the Tar Heels seventh and the Zags ninth.

Both teams have been hit hard by graduation and NBA draft early entrants. They have supplemented some key returners with strong incoming recruiting classes and graduate transfers.

GU students will be on holiday break when the Tar Heels visit Spokane. UNC students weren’t in session for last year’s Dec. 15 meeting in Chapel Hill. Gonzaga and North Carolina both were coming off finals week.

The date of the return game dovetails with the Tar Heels’ trip west to face UCLA on Dec. 21 in the CBS Sports Classic doubleheader in Las Vegas.

The Zags’ nonconference schedule includes road matchups against Washington, Arizona and Texas A&M. Gonzaga and North Carolina are in a strong eight-team field at the Battle 4 Atlantis, but organizers likely will put them in different brackets.

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