Duke, UNC to remain 'primary partners'

North Carolina and Duke will remain “primary partners” under the ACC's new 18-game conference scheduling format released Friday by the league.

But there could be one anomaly a year in the schedule -- next season -- if, as expected, Syracuse and Pittsburgh don't join the ACC until 2013-14.

Once the ACC does officially expand to 14, the league scheduling model will be based on a three-year cycle. Primary partners will play home and away each season, according to the news release. The other 12 teams will rotate in groups of four, with each team playing one group home-and-away; one group at home only, and one group on the road only.

The groupings were not immediately available.

Over the course of the three-year cycle, primary partners will play a total of six times, while other conference foes play four times.

The ACC opted not to go to divisions.

The other primary partner pairings will be: Boston College and Syracuse; Clemson and Georgia Tech; Florida State and Miami; Maryland and Pitt; NC State and Wake Forest; and Virginia and Virginia Tech.

As expected, all 14 teams in the league will continue to compete in the ACC tournament, although the decision on the new format has not been announced.

The league said in December it planned to expand to 18 games next season, even without Syracuse and Pittsburgh, so that teams could begin solidifying their nonconference schedules.

If those two teams don't join early, there would be one anomaly season before the new three-year rotation kicked in -- during which Boston College and Maryland would become each other's primary partner, a league spokesperson said, and other conference games would be added.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.