UNC opponent preview: East Carolina

As we count down to the first day of basketball practice (Oct. 12), let’s take a look at an opponent on North Carolina’s basketball schedule ...

Opponent: East Carolina

Date: Dec. 15, noon

Location: Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Series results: UNC leads 2-0 (last matchup was in the 1993 NCAA tournament, when the Tar Heels beat the Pirates 85-65)

ECU last season: 15-16, 5-11 in Conference USA

Foe to know: Jeff Lebo, head coach

Lebo will be a familiar presence at the Smith Center. He is a former four-year starter under Dean Smith, and current Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams was a UNC assistant for part of Lebo’s career.

ECU is Lebo’s latest rebuilding job. He guided Tennessee Tech, Chattanooga and Auburn to 20-win seasons as a head coach, and he made instant impact during his first season in Greenville, N.C., in 2010-11, coaching the Pirates to their first winning season (18-16) in 14 years.

But Lebo is still looking for that first NCAA tournament bid as a head coach. The game against his alma mater should be an early test for an ECU team that lost only one starter from last season.

Tidbits: The Pirates return two of their top three scorers in guard Miguel Paul (15.2 ppg, 5.9 apg) and forward Maurice Kemp (10.5 ppg). … This will mark the ninth straight season under Williams that UNC has played at least one home game against an in-state, nonconference foe.

Previous schedule previews:

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.